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Why boo our best and brightest?

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George Riley George Riley | 12:13 UK time, Friday, 2 September 2011

Why do sports fans take such pleasure in jeering their most feared adversaries?

It's a topic I've been arguing about with fans on Twitter for weeks in the face of escalating abuse towards Sam Tomkins. The outstanding young Wigan and England full-back did himself no favours with an ill-advised gesture at Wembley but does he deserve the flak he has been getting?

Sean Long, Lee Briers and now Tomkins. Three brilliant players, all hated by opposition fans. Frighteningly good players whom the sport should be proudly promoting but who are instead booed and heckled at away grounds as much as they are idolised on home soil.

So do they deserve it? Is Tomkins rightly being barracked by fans, some of whom perceive him as a niggly, petulant, arrogant rule bender? Or is he targeted because rival fans fear him. Is it jealousy, pure and simple?

Sam Tomkins

Tomkins attracts attention as a star player, but does he deserve all the fans' abuse? Photo: Getty

I fiercely defended Tomkins recently and was criticised for labelling those who booed him "pathetic". Tomkins then did what he did at Wembley and I found myself unable to offer a defence.

So what do the players think?

Ahead of Warrington's potential blockbusting game against Wigan, I spoke to Briers, who, having experienced a similar rapport with fans to Tomkins, said the Warriors must guide their young superstar through the storm.

"Sam needs to think about his reputation and how he is seen as a person and a player," Briers told me. "Reputation is a massive thing.

"When you are younger you are not mature even if you think you are. You don't fully understand or appreciate your surroundings.

"I'm sure the Wigan coaching staff and chairman will look after him. He can be a superstar of our game so I hope we can get him highlighted the right way in the press and have some positive news stories about him and our game."

This has been my point entirely.

Tomkins is one of the most exciting young talents that British rugby league has produced in years yet we are already lambasting when we could be embracing.

Briers admits the 22-year-old badly let himself down with his two-fingered salute to Leeds fans but says this situation snowballed long before Wembley.

"I don't think it's all from his doing," said Briers. "He didn't do anything bad to start off the booing and now that's all escalated and everyone's jumped on the bandwagon of this Wembley gesture."

Tomkins himself gave an interview a couple of months ago in which he claimed not to be fazed by the boo boys, saying in an interview with Forty-20 magazine: "They want a reaction from me and I won't give them what they want."

But now he has. So what happened?

"Sam is a reactive player, you can see that in the way he plays," added Briers, the Lance Todd Trophy winner at Wembley 12 months ago.

"It wasn't planned, he reacted - but we all make mistakes. No one is perfect. Sam's unfortunately got caught up in the excitement of Wembley.

"I've been there and know what it's all about. He'll learn from it. And I think nothing less of him for doing it."

In fact, said Briers, all great players have flaws. "With all special players, all mavericks, we all do something wrong in our careers," he said. "People with a spark to them live on the edge."

Lee Briers

Lee Briers sympathises with Tomkins: "I've been there and know what it's all about." Photo: Getty

Briers himself has certainly lived by that mantra over his terrific career. And like Tomkins, he has also reacted to abuse from fans.

I remember a game well in fact. A typical match-winning performance from Briers saw his Headingley drop-goal knock Leeds out of the 2006 play-offs at the first hurdle. I was commentating and fans around me were giving Briers lots of abuse.

He snapped and gave the Southstanders the finger when he kicked his match-winner.

"I had two young children at Headingley and the abuse was personal and going too far," explained Briers. "I can handle a few thousand booing, but not the personal stuff. As you get older, you get used to it and you can have banter back, but what I was hearing was not on."

From my comfy position on this BBC reporter's soap box I need to hold my hand up to my rugby league past. As a passionate supporter, I booed Briers before swapping the terraces for the commentary box.

I joke with him that I despised the bloke on the pitch when I was stood supporting my team. But I now find it pathetic that I was insulting someone I didn't even know.

Some players simply wind fans up. It tends to be the best players, those that opposition fans fear.

And more often than not it serves as an inspiration.

"I always saw the boos as pleasing," said Briers. "It's about respect and means I'm doing something right. If they didn't do it that means they're not worried about me.

"If you asked fans who boo Tomkins if they would have him in their team, I could guarantee everybody would say 'yes'. If you can show me anyone saying 'no', then I will show you a liar".

My view on Tomkins is that we should cut the kid some slack. He is making mistakes while learning in the public eye and can grow into a role model if we allow him to. He is a brilliant and at times unplayable player and I hope we become able to embrace the publicity that such a fabulous young prospect can bring to our game.


  • Comment number 1.

    Sorry am I missing the point of this blog? Surely booing a player on an opposing team is normal behaviour so why is it being questioned? Another blog demonstrating waste at the BBC.

  • Comment number 2.

    The abuse of Tomkins from Leeds fans can be traced back to an incident about a year ago. Danny McGuire collided with George Carmont and did himself a very serious injury, Tomkins then sprinted 40 yards to stand over a prostrate McGuire and hurl verbal abuse at him.

    I'm not condoning the abuse of Tomkins, but if he wants to command the respect of opposing fans, then maybe he should conduct himself better on the pitch.

    Behaving in that way is only going to wind up opposition fans, not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, plenty of other players have gone that way, Sean Long, Barrie McDermott, Bobby Goulding etc. If you're going to play that way though, you have to accept that you're going to get booed.

  • Comment number 3.

    He was also booed at the International Origin match. Hardly excusable... unless there were a lot more Exiles fans than England fans at Leeds.

  • Comment number 4.

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  • Comment number 5.

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  • Comment number 6.

    George, I think you're being a bit deliberately naiive here. At least I hope it's deliberate.

    I quite like Tomkins, his antics make me laugh at times, but the cockiness and the goading (see his run in to score against Bradford the week before Wembley, or the tking the ball dead near the end of the final for the most recent examples) isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. If he was rubbish it might get ignored more, but it's his behaviour more than his actual play that attracts people's ire.

    I don't mind Tomkins because he can back up the swagger. Lee Briers was slightly different. Like Tomkins he was (and is) supremely talented, but had a terrible petulance about him in his younger days, which not only annoyed people but also affected his game. He never consistently, week-in, week-out delivered to his potential until Tony Smith came along. That was more of a problem.

    I think it's hilariously ironic that fans will jeer and abuse players for 80 minutes, but get all righteously indignant if they get a bit back. That said, players probably should know better. They're paid to be there, the fans pay to be there, which is an important difference.

    Sam Tomkins can either continue to wind people up, and live with the booing and abuse, or he can stop it and win some hearts and minds. Personally I couldn't care less which he does, I'm more interested in what he delivers in an England shirt, but he has some choice in this, and he needs to live with the consequences of his choices.

  • Comment number 7.

    MattietheRhino has probably hit the nail on the head for a lot if Rhinos fans. Personally, I don't like his attitude either. He goes out if his way to 'milk' penalties (far more than any other player I can think of), and I'm sure I remember him even feigning injury to do so. He exemplified his immature, petulant behaviour at Wembley and frankly I think he was extremely lucky to get away with a slap on the wrists (effectively). Are the RFL scared of punishing him for fear of losing him to the NRL? For the record, I've never booed him, but he gives me a lot to dislike. As someone has already pointed out, this is exacerbated by him being a superb player. If he was rubbish, nobody would care.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good Article!! Booing opposition players is part and parcel of rugby, booing your own nations players is new and Maybe Leeds are just copying thier football neighbours!! Sam Tomkins - The best English talent for a generation. Its a shame that the personal stuff that Briers talks about will send Sam off to the NRL or Union in his prime!! In five years when England have no ideas going forward and are getting out played by the Aussies, maybe some of the boo boys who currently go to far with the abuse, might just wish they hadnt!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    PulpGrape - you disagree with something here so it demonstrates "waste at the BBC"? Get a grip. Missing the point? You said it.

  • Comment number 10.

    In my opinion, & as other comments have pointed out, tomkins riles fans with his cockiness, goading & arrogance. An example being rather than play out the last few seconds of a match he will needlessly dance around to run the ball dead. He's very street-wise in his play, he knows how to draw penalties & in some respects that is a skill. However referees & disciplinary panals need to wise-up on his actions, deliberatly holding a player down on him when tackled, or "accidently" getting his arm trapped on the ball when tackling. He gets a lot of unneeded protection from referees, if hes going to run sideways he should expect some hard shots being put on him. Tomkins is just playing the referees & fair play to him, if his actions got clamped down on, he would alter his game for the better im sure & would gain respect.
    The media also need to see Tomkins in a more realistic light, he is great attacking from fullback at a Super League level, however his defensive full back play is awful & his wingers do a lot of work for him to run the ball back. Put Tomkins against the NRL's finest or in an international game & he doesnt come close to being as good as the superlatives thrown at him suggest.
    Tomkins will struggle to win back fans respect, but if he performs well at international level, is not over-hyped by the media or over protected by referees, he has a chance.

  • Comment number 11.

    Sam shouldn't have told Josh he'd score twice for his one in that fashion, but the Leeds fans only have themselves to blame - if you can't take it don't give it out.

    Having said that, yes Sam does go down like a sack of spuds sometimes and has been guilty of holding/pulling down for both of which he needs a good slap and told to stop it.
    The booing only came to the fore after the Exiles game where it was apparently a few Leeds puddins still sulking from the McGuire/Carmont thing & letting the world know they can't tell the difference between a white shirt and one with a great deal of red on it, subsequently copied by everyone else because they think it'll put him off somehow.

  • Comment number 12.

    The most annoying thing with Tomkins is that despte what amybody says he is a supreme talent. But you cant help but think how good would he be if he concentrated 100% on his game and not on cheating and winding up opposite players and fans alike. Becuase he is so good kids will look up to him and as a coach of a junior team i dont want children to see him as a role model.

    He is in danger of his arrogance, cheating and general bad attitude overtaking how good a player he is.

  • Comment number 13.

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  • Comment number 14.

    Being a Wigan fan, I'm obviously bias towards Tomkins. Looking at all the great players in the past, they all had cockiness and confidence and Sam is no different. Long may it continue as I fear that if he takes that out of his game then he would not be the same player. Also, there are a few comments about all the penalties that he draws. I'm pretty sure its in every opposition game plan to stop Sam Tonkins, so he will obviously be targeted. Also, looking at Wigan’s usual penalty count per game, we usually get less than the opposition. Much of the disslike towards the lad seems to be bandwagen stuff and it is pretty easy to dislike a player when he is running rings round your team.

  • Comment number 15.

    I wonder why so many gifted players seem to carry so much mental baggage? Why can't Tomkins concentrate on getting the best out of his brilliant talent rather than trying to referee the game? That being said if I boo a player he has the right to respond otherwise I'm a coward/bully. However, we now live in a society where everyone knows their rights but don't want to acknowledge their responsibilities. Maybe Tomkins and the Leeds fans are a microcosm of today's society?

  • Comment number 16.

    I have not one ounce of respect for this petulent, sly, deceiving little boy!

    How journos, officials and the majority of Wigan fans fail to see his sly, underhanded attempts at tarnishing the spirit of the game week in week out in such a blatant manner is beyond me!

    Barely moments into last weeks final he attempted to feign injury after a challenge, but soon got up after he realised the ref wasnt interested!

    I dont deny he is an outstanding player but unfortunately his behaviour in other areas has alienated RL fans to such an extreme that we refuse to show him any allegiance when wearing englands colours! For this he only has himself to blame.

    Another point, had the exiles game been played at another ground, who would be blamed for the booing? It wasnt just leeds fans, it was fans of other clubs not connected to wigan, so this tag of the leeds fans started the booing is absolute rubbish!

    Players get paid alot of money to take abuse, fans pay alot to give it, did sam think of the kids watching last week? And to another thing overlooked last week, did big bro joel think about the small children in the crowd as he quite blatantly turned his back on the leeds fans and threw the ball backwards into the crowd forcefully after scoring one of the best trys wembley has seen??

    For the time being, this mature, saint-like demeanour he gives off isnt fooling me one bit!

  • Comment number 17.

    I remember the season he first broke through and he seemed to want to pick a fight with anyone who tackled him. During that season, there was an incident in a Saints-Wigan game where Cunningham was stood-up in the tackle, wrapped up by 2 or 3 Wigan defenders. Tomkins ran in from about 20 yards away and dove in, shoulder first, onto Cunningham's leg side-on. It was a cheap shot and always likely to cause inury - indeed, it put Cunningham out of the game and onto the treatment table for 2 or 3 weeks.

    He was a real snappy little Jack Russell of a player.

    If I'm honest, I'd say he's actually learned to control much of his petulence (he doesn't push and give a mouthful to the marker when he gets up to play the ball anywhere near as much) but he does play referees, as has been said, and isn't averse to a bit of play-acting to win a penalty.

  • Comment number 18.

    Few would actually argue against booing opponents, doing it to a representative of your own country is despicable though, unless he does something totally stupid (Beckhams trip or Rooney heckling his own fans), but it isn't just booing against Tomkins is it, it's often abuse too.

    As for those who got upset by his two-fingered salute, how petty and childish can you be, it's the sort of reaction that's common amongst 7 year olds and no adult who's honest could ever complain of being insulted or shocked by it, GROW UP!!

    The lack of any class shown by a largeish chunk of Leeds fans drives away many from their matches and I wouldn't be surprised if our brightest and best talent go to Australia if this kind of abuse expands to fans of the other clubs, god help the game 5 years from now.

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes of course you should jeer your opponents better players, but it should be jeering in the spirit of Rugby League, not soccer like hatred. It is concerning that the continuous failings of Leeds Utd seem to be attracting some of their 'fans' to Headingley.

    I never had the pie-eaters down as having the intelligence to make irony of it by booing Tompkins themselves at the DW...great stuff!!

    No, Tompkins nor anyone else should react, BUT they are human beings not machines.

  • Comment number 20.

    Response to post no.2 from Mattietherhino
    "The abuse of Tomkins from Leeds fans can be traced back to an incident about a year ago. Danny McGuire collided with George Carmont and did himself a very serious injury, Tomkins then sprinted 40 yards to stand over a prostrate McGuire and hurl verbal abuse at him."
    We must be careful here because your "collided" looked very much like a cynical professional foul from my seat at that game that stopped wigan scoring a last minute try and hence winning the game. I do not condone Tomkins actions at standing over an injured McGuire but cynical football esq "professional" fouls have no place in our game and this is why McGuire receives an equal amount of "friendly banter" from the wigan fans. Booing the opposition will always be part and parcel of the game and as long as it stays on the field then I don't think the players will have any problems with it.

  • Comment number 21.

    ....sorry but I'm more concerend about the BBC coverage (Clare aside - obviously)....what a joke 15 minute preview...if they don't want to cover it why don't they just not bother. At this reate next year it'll all be on CBeebs at 2am. Its not as is if they have loads of other sports to cover.

    A truely great sporting day being seemingly deliberately down graded.

    Move it all to Sky sports, at least they REALLY want us.

  • Comment number 22.

    I suppose the subject is getting a bit old now but Sam Tomkins isn't the first player to be booed and he won't be the last. I don't have much sympathy with him over that and the 'poor little Tomkins' approach in the media is rather silly. No fuss is made on each occasion that James Graham is booed - Wigan and Leeds fans indulge in this more than most and they don't just boo Graham but sing an abusive song also. James Graham does not and never has told the crowd booing him to f-off and he is only 25 himself. My own opinion of Tomkins as a player is on hold until I see him perform on the big stage. He tends to have what are euphemistically called 'quiet games' while his colleague Thomas Leuluai rips up the opposition in the same context. If Tomkins impresses in the autumn then I'll be happy to consider that he may well be as talented as some are suggesting. Meanwhile, he's a very good club player with the potential to become a great club player.

    What I think is disappointing about the whole situation regarding Tomkins is the nauseating level of hype surrounding him. I have been hoping that RL would not drift towards soccer in this respect but sadly it is doing so. RL is a team sport and without his team mates winning the ground for him Tomkins would not be able to run half as much as he does.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think booing is part of the fun kind of like pantomime and booing the villains. At the end of the day supporters pay their money and are entitled to express their feelings. As long as it's just booing I don't have a problem with it, but the abuse always seems to go too far and starts getting personal which I don't like.
    Tomkins is a fantastic player and I think could be moulded to be our own Billy Slater but he doesn't do himself any favours with the way he behaves. At the end of the day if the ruling bodies don't punish poor behaviour then it's up to the fans to police it with their own booing. Trying to cheat penalties by holding onto players who've tackled you is bound to get booed and rightly so. As soon as you don't do anything wrong then you can complain if the crowd still boo you.

  • Comment number 24.

    Ha Ha! Perhaps he should come to Union (Not England) where we appreciate his sort of talent more!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Well said #19, couldn't agree more. Hopefully Leeds Utd will get back into the Premier League and they'll start watching them again.

    I think Sam can take it. Although he's human and it's not surprising he reacts sometimes.

    Also agree with #22 about the fact that he's not a great player - yet.

  • Comment number 26.

    Ha, very clever #19 & #25,

    Lets blame the imaginary LUFC fans at headingley for all the abuse Tomkins has brought on himself, for this football like hatred could only be down to those nasty hooligans from leeds!

    If only Castleford Town FC would hurry back to the premierleague then we wouldnt get all this homophobic chanting,

    All those Wigan Athletic fans abusing James Graham on a friday night at the DW is just not on either,

    Tomkins receives no more stick from Rhino fans than he does anywhere else, and if he continues on the way he does then he deserves it!

    And #18, its ok for Tomkins to flip the V to opposing fans because were adults and we shouldnt be insulted? Sets a fine example to children though doesnt it, its ok because Sam Tomkins did it on national tele!

  • Comment number 27.

    if you go through every sport alot of the best players have arrogance. football- ronaldo, boxing- mayweather, rugby union- quade cooper, darts- adrian lewis. Been arrogant when you are very talented is acceptable. Its people who are arrogant when they are poor who deserve to be booed etc.
    In relation to tomkins, he is the most talented english rugby league player i have seen, and gets me on the edge of my seat as much as jason robinson did when he played in either code.
    The abuse comes from the incident a while back, but other teams in super league boo him, due to him been brilliant at what he does. They can say its coz he milks penalties etc, but if he was no good and did that nobody would take any notice. The fact he is so talented people are jealous and fancy a pop at him. The booing when he played for england was just stupid, and people who did that wanna get the life sorted as it is just pathetic.

  • Comment number 28.

    "cynicalyorkie2" please give me a break "soccer like hatred" and Leeds United fans turning up just to boo a rugby league player... as if. Leeds Rhinos fans (or any Rugby League fan for that matter) are no angels who just clap when the opposition score or cheat a penalty from a referee - just accept it Rugby League has enough dodgy fans without pulling the football fans into it.

    On Sam Tomkins giving fingers to opposition fans is not going to win him any fans other than with Wigan and he is a good player with great potential unless he sorts his attitude out he will never be a legend of the game. Personally as a United fan first and a Rhinos fan second I hope he gets his head down and turns into a legend of the RL game... leading England to many victories down under and Wigan to many glorious defeats.

  • Comment number 29.

    This has been dragging on for far too long. How was the Booing of Tomkins at the exiles game just Leeds fans? Have i missed something, were leeds fans the only supporters who went to that game???

    I suppose it was just wigan fans who booed Danny McGuire when he go substituted in the 4 nations game against Australia at the DW stadium.

  • Comment number 30.

    have to say this is getting just a little bit boring now !!! listening to all the hype about this poor kid being booed!! I was at the exile game and yes he got some booing but i was in the south stand and surrounded by fans from other clubs so to say it was just leeds fans is a bit naive,were you actually at the game ?? as for the 2 fingered salute to rhinos fans at wembley "really real" were you at the game ?? did you not see all the kids that were there !!! is this the way we want our kids to behave when they play sport. It goes without saying that tomkins is a good player and "may" become a great player in the future (a long way off at the moment ) however his petulance and arrogance could easily stand in his way. if you listen to sky`s commentary team you would think that he was the greatest player ever seen in this game but come on be realistic could he even lace billy slater`s boots ?? when you watch wigan play it is leuluai, finch and deacon that dictate how they play not tomkins. lee briers is an annoying prat and a good player but he never got chance at international level in my opinion because of his petulance how many times has he stood and stamped his feet when a decision went against him, however with a good coach in charge at warrington ( tony smith ) he has matured even at his age !! tomkins needs a good strong coach to grab him, give him a good shake and tell him to play his game and cut out all the prancing pony crap and stop trying to milk penalties by pretending he has been shot !!

  • Comment number 31.

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  • Comment number 32.

    Booing is part and parcel of sport and adds to the pantomime of it. I was disappointed when the Leeds fans (of which I'm on) booed him at the international game (which I didn't). It took me back to an incident years ago when another mercurial Wigan talent was booed by Leeds fans. That time it was Shaun Edwards and on that occasion Ellery Hanley walked up to Edwards and told him to 'ignore the idiots' or something like that. But something people have missed is that Danny McGuire received the same treatment from Wigan fans when playing at the JJB for Great Britain. He was subsequently dropped. Is it a case that Tomkins is an up-and-coming star so we have to pamper to him?

    I love watching players like him. Briers is one of my all time favourites and I loved when he gave the South Stand crowd stick because it was usually with a smile on his face. Sport is a pantomime and the booing is part of it. It's almost a test of a players character and if they can give it back in the right way we respect that (I even remember Briers being clapped by the South Stand in recent times and him clapping back). I wish Tomkins would lose that petulance and play, and I won't boo him unless he does something in the game to warrant it.

    Just as a side note, the only player I ever booed year after year wad Mick Cassidy for the most cowardly act when he smashed Adrian Morleys face to pieces with his elbow when Moz was wrapped up.

    Anyway, we South Standers aren't all bad. What most of you won't see is us clapping EVERY academy team off the pitch.

  • Comment number 33.

    Surely, the booing of players such as Briers, Long and Tomkins is down in many cases to jealousy on the part of opposition fans? As a Wire fan, I have booed / shouted at many a mecurial opponent over the years! However, I felt quite ashamed recently when Tomkins gave up his time to work with some U10 players at my club (a union club at that - sorry!). He showed himself to be a very articulate lad who the children really saw as a positive role model. In short, we need to promote the likes of Sam Tomkins and not vilify him - unless he's playing against the Wire, of course!

  • Comment number 34.

    To all the Leeds fans suggesting Tomkins is a niggly, cheating player. What about when Carl Ablett smashed him whilst taking the high ball at Headingly last year. A clear cheap shot that Tomkins jumped straight up from and didnt try to 'milk' the penalty. I think I even remember one of the sky commentators mentioning that the fact Tomkins got straight up was probably what saved Ablett from being sent off.

    Also, I seem have forgotten what a nice, honest sportsman Ryan Bailey is!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    rl is turning into a joke, england fans boing their own players! give it a few years and tomkins will joing the rest of the best sl talent down under, i think the fans then can rest easy knowing the booing chants can cease as there will only be average plodders and past it 30+ year old australians and kiwis to cheer

  • Comment number 36.

    First off I don't think people waste their time booing poor opposotion players, so there is an elemnent of inverted admiration here. However I think Tomkins brings along an element of soccer-style gamemanship that upsets fans. For example he has a habit of playing dead when tackled, Ben Thaler even made a comment to him about it during a televised match recently, he tends to trap a tackler's arm to cheat himself penalties, and seems to want to get opponents in trouble with officials in a similar way to the pathetic soccer players who run around brandishing imaginary yellow cards at referees. It is this snide side to his game that goads people in my opinion.

  • Comment number 37.

    I'd make a comparison to football, you can be a top player who is admired for their talent and loved for their conduct e.g. Messi or you can just be a player admired for his talent e.g. Ronaldo, up to Sam which he wants to be.

    Cut out the niggling, going down like he has been shot, chelping officials, goading opposition players and fans and the booing will stop. Or carry on and put up with the booing.

  • Comment number 38.

    Here's a question George if you think Tomkins and Briers are booed solely for their flair and talent

    Why wasn't Lesley Vainakolo booed ? Caused untold damage to the opposition with his flair play, surely he was feared and regarded with jealousy by the opposition fans ? Doesn't he fits your criteria ?

    It couldn't be possibly to do with his conduct could it George ?

  • Comment number 39.

    They say that booing is the finest form of flattery. Aside from the incident during the International Origin, what's wrong with a bit of booing? They're spectators, fans, hard-working people who pay good money for a bit of escapism on a Friday night; they're not members from the local WI.

    As for Sam's conduct against the Leeds fans... he's only 22 years old and at that age you expect people to make mistakes about what is and isn't appropriate of them whilst doing their job. He needs to learn that opposition fans *will* boo him week-in, week-out and he needs to respond with professionalism. That said, I think the gesture was less to do with what happens in Super League and more to do with what happened during the Exiles game, which itself was completely indefensible. Whatever you think of him, he's representing *your* country, so to boo Sam when he's in an England shirt is to boo the whole of our national team, your own club's players included.

    No amount of commentating from a high-horse will change that.

  • Comment number 40.

    Did everyone miss older brother Joel Tomkins flicking the V's before Sam? The BBC coverage caught Sam full on screen but as Joel was running to celebrate the try he was the first to commit the crime, and Sam just followed along. Yes I was at the game and saw for myself what happened and after watching it again on the BBC iplayer this has been confirmed although I noticed the Rugby Football League has chosen only to fine one of the brothers when a ban would have been more appropriate. I watch England home and away (went to the last world cup, Australia 2008) and would never Boo a rugby league player because it is the toughest sport in the world.

  • Comment number 41.

    seems to me there have been more Leeds fans on here than were at wembers......

  • Comment number 42.

    #26 No it isn't just Leeds fans. But it's mainly Leeds fans.

  • Comment number 43.

    Sam Tomkins is the David Beckham of RL. He will always get this reaction from non Wigan fans because they can't stand such talent in an opposition player. Watch the jeers turn to cheers from Saints, Leeds or Warington fans if he signed for them. As for last Saturday, very silly & he should know better but 10 years ago Beckham did the same at an away match with Leeds United while still at Man Utd & nothing happened because of the abuse he received from the Leeds fans. The powers that be in RL should have had a quiet word with Sam & left it at that.

  • Comment number 44.

    Clints Lunchbox has hit it right on the head, Tomkins is very over rated player, he does not do the same things most fullbacks do in the typical description, he comes in to the line with a bit of space to work with, which exposes his strengths, speed and agility, but as we have seen in high level games such as internationals, and the exiles game, smart defenses don't leave the gaps and completely nullified him. this was the reason for the booing in that particular game at Headingley, it wasn't just the Leeds fans either, i was in the south stand with fans from every local club watching him run from touchline to touchline, and everyone getting quite frustrated.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Bit rich Leeds fans calling Sam a cheat! McGuire, Sinfield, Bailey etc have been getting away with it for years! I've seen Myler milking pens and swallow diving and what about Monaghan today going down in the tackle like he'd been shot after what was the briefest if touches. Peoples criticism of Sam is just hypocritical at best as not one fan of any other super league team would not rather have him in their team. As for the two fingers, I've seen several other super league players do it, including Leeds players and not even go to disciplinary yet alone get punished.

  • Comment number 47.

    Oh no, my criticisms of Tomkins are offensive. Typical of the RFL directives I've mentioned. Commentators and pundits censoring truth and logic.

    Sam Tomkins wouldn't make his way in to an NRL side. He's average. British League, what a joke.

  • Comment number 48.

    Rugby League as a spectator sport is entertainment. Like pantomimes we need heroes and villains. Sam Tomkins has made himself a villain - in the last two games - an obscene gesture to opposition fans and dangerous play putting the boot in when he shouldn't. He also has plenty of previous. He knows he does it - he's even said it's pantomime and he's not fussed. Why should we be fussed? Keep on booing -it adds to the atmosphere!

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't know why we're making such a big deal about this. Think about how much abuse high profile footballers get. Love him or hate him, Tomkins is the type of player league needs. He causes controversey. Nobody can deny his talent and what's more he makes the headlines. The game is being shunned more than ever by the national press so any news is good news.

    As for the guys booing him when wearing the England shirt, the less said the better.

  • Comment number 50.

    I cant believe what i am reading here with some of these Leeds fans!! Ha calling Tomkins a cheat and spoiled brat? am i looking at things right or arent Leeds the team that have Ryan Bailey, the biggest kid in rugby league!! This guy doesnt like even a normal tackle being made on him without lashing out at the opposition and thinking he is some kind of big time gangster! And dont get me started on Mr Mcguire, i was stood right in front of the Carmont incident and Mcguire brought the injury on hisself by blatently and i mean blatently pulling another player back to prevent a try when he didnt event have the ball!! So the reeaction of Tomkins was not to the injury but from the clear foul play by Mcguire! And i also remember in this same game a Mr Laiutiti doing Hulk Hogan "i cant hear you" gestures to the Wigan fans and jumping and celebrating in the Wigan fans faces, Childish? I rest my case.

  • Comment number 51.

    Anyone who saw Sunday's game will know precisely why Tomkins gets booed and why he deserves it. Tony Smith went out of his way in the programme to ask the fans to show him respect - a mark of a real man - and Tomkins reacts with a typically niggly display crowned by his outrageous kick at Clarke's arm as he scored his try. Briers' reaction was understandable and should have taught Tomkins a lesson. Let's see if the RFL can follow suit - what happens to the suspended fine now?!

  • Comment number 52.

    Is nobody going to mention Lee Briers giving the Wigan fans the middle finger yesterday when he went to celebrate with monaghan after his drop goal??
    Disgusting behaviour from an experienced pro who can't blame immaturity for such a blatant response to jeers. Warrington and Briers should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 53.

    Yes Sir, No Sir, 3 bags full Sir, Briers is the biggest slimeball i have seen and is constantly in the referees ear, does anybody remember Briers running backwards with 10 seconds to go at wigan a few years ago taunting the wigan players and ran in touch? So whats the problem with Tomkins doing it?

  • Comment number 54.

    Tomkins disgraces himself and the game near on every time he plays .

    Sly digs after people score with the knees

    Constant holding on when tackled trying to cheat his way to a penalty

    Constant card waving to the ref to get a fellow pro punished

    Teasing beaten teams when final whistle is about to blow by taunting them with the ball instead of just kicking it into touch and ending the game .

    And then Wigan have the clean cut Gareth Hock , Even the biased RFL cannot fail to give him at least a 8 game ban for trying to take someones eye out .

    But no doubt that they will.

  • Comment number 55.

    He just needs to grow up, today on twitter he reacted to a Warrington fan calling him a *rude name* by insulting her teeth...He doesn't help himself, how can we "embrace" him as you suggest when he can't handle a 14 year old girl calling him a *rude name*?

    I haven't booed him because I want England to beat the Aussies and I'd feel ridiculous booing a player when playing for Wigan and then cheering him for England but he really needs to sort himself out.

  • Comment number 56.

    booing Tomkins is making him play better, he'll win man of steel thanks to the thick Leeds fans egging him on.

  • Comment number 57.

    56. At 18:41 5th Sep 2011, sumo82 wrote:
    booing Tomkins is making him play better, he'll win man of steel thanks to the thick Leeds fans egging him on.

    Every fan in the country apart from wigan boo him because he is a cheat and proven coward , He will win man of steel because he is a great player .

    But we will see how good when he is against Aussies and Kiwi's

  • Comment number 58.

    It seems fans easily forget the players from their own clubs who stay in the tackle too long, milk penalties when being tackled or simply add a little niggle to the game by being a bit too feisty, ALL clubs have had these players in the past and Tomkins is just one of quite a few who are currently like this in SL, try watching your own teams with an unbiased eye before singling out just one man.

    As for those whinging about his reactions to the abusive fans, it seems pretty obvious that you're all exactly the kind of people who overreact to things anyway, the words pot, kettle and black spring to mind here.

  • Comment number 59.

    As a warrington fan I have no problem with Tomkins other than he gives it out then complains when he gets afters. you live by the sword......

    But his attitude is his playing style (reminds me of andy gregory) take that edge away and would you have the same player ????

    The blog should be more about Hock as this was a serious talking point, and for all the winding up, running after the ref that Sam does, it is nothing compared to what Hock did.

    I hope they throw the book at him

  • Comment number 60.

    The slow motion cameras make what Hock did look bad, if you watch it in real time its clearly accidental (except the uppercut attempt).
    The person who should be brought to book is Lee Briers for his disgraceful behaviour
    and Matt King for his massive fluffy wig.

  • Comment number 61.

    George I think you have it spot on. Silly with the v-sign but If people knew what a cracking kid from a fantastic family this guy is booing them would be the last thing they'd do. I had the pleasure and privilege of briefly working with the Warriors in 2009. Being the class act they are, the Warriors gave my Brother and I free tickets to the crusaders game a week later. My Brother has Downs Syndrome and even though we are Bulls season ticket holders, he loved the gameday experience at what was then the JJB. The hospitality extended to the players lounge. Sam called me over, even though he was approached by loads of fans and he was having a drink with Joel and his parents. After making James's day by posing for a pic I said "listen we've taken enough of your time, I can see you're with your parents". His Dad laughed at me and instead bought us a drink. You could see the entire family were doing their best to ensure James's day was made. They are a class act and nothing like what they are being made out to be.

    The worst example of fan hostility unfortunatly comes from our own. That certain sections of the Odsal faithful seemed to think he got Raynor sent off continues to bewilder me. Did he see an incoming fist and decide instead of scoring to get Raynor sent off by headbutting it?? He was knocked out cold and the allegation he cheated the official is ludicrous.

    A thread on the Leeds forum suggested they boycott the four nations as he'll be involved. Any England "fan" who does this will not be missed at Wembley.

    Oh and I agree with you on Lee Briers. My attitude towards him changed totally when he dedicated the 2009 CC to his Brother who'd tragically passed away. He might have had certain issues which hindered him in the past, but Tony Smith has got the very best out of him in both playing and character terms.

  • Comment number 62.

    60. At 12:44 6th Sep 2011, sumo82 wrote:
    The slow motion cameras make what Hock did look bad, if you watch it in real time its clearly accidental (except the uppercut attempt).

    Is this a serious post ?

    He should have been booted out of the game after drug ban and grabbing refs arm ..................................hock is a disgrace of a person and should have no place in the game of rugby league

  • Comment number 63.

    60. At 12:44 6th Sep 2011, sumo82 wrote:
    The slow motion cameras make what Hock did look bad, if you watch it in real time its clearly accidental (except the uppercut attempt).

    I am guessing that this comment was made with tongue firmly in cheek !!!
    how do you accidentally put your hand on top of someone`s head and accidentally try to pull they're head backwards by poking your fingers in the eyes and then try to knock they're head off for daring to react !!
    Rugby is a hard game played by hard men but there is no place in the game at all for cowardly cheats like Hock, the rfl is fast becoming an even bigger joke than before with the pathetic punishments handed out week after week

  • Comment number 64.

    I am a neutral fan and to be honest i dont see what the big fuss is about over the Hock incident, i agree with Sumo82's comments on post 60, hock had hold of the player from behind and was simply pulling his hands in an upward motion trying to reef the ball out, because he missed the reef his hand pulled the face, unless you have played the game you wouldnt know this and if you watch the super league show Robbie Hunter Paul agrees. Hock should be cleared to get on with things it was clearly an accident.
    People need to stop the obsession with Wigan and its players, some people on here are obsessed with what Wigan do, and to be fair there not Super League champions and challenge cup champions for nothing, they play the game better than anyone else and are good at what they do.

  • Comment number 65.

    Stay on your feet & rhinomandave - Clearly you two have never played rugby as you seem to look at the game through the rose tinted spectacles of an armchair fan, the game is ran with high emotion and controlled aggression, sometimes this spills over and players take the law into their own hands but it is not just Wigan players????? Warrington and Leeds are probably the worst offenders !!
    You can look at several incidents in recent weeks were you would want the book thrown at players to try and take away the reasons what make this a great sport.
    It's fans like you that give RL a bad name.

  • Comment number 66.

    So let me see if I have this right. According to Sumo you have had to have played rugby to give an informed opinion (so watching the game for over 40 years doesnt count) and mickysausage says Hock was innocent (Shows what the RL Know then with 5 match ban) oh yes and its all Leeds Rhinos fault. What makes me sick in this game I love, inadequate referees, dummies that commentate on games that are so biased I happily turn the sound down oh and know alls that couldnt give a fair opinion if their lives depended on it

  • Comment number 67.

    Playing the game gives you the insight of the player as well, not just to try and repremand every bad tackle and turn the game into a farce like football.
    Nobody is saying its all Leeds fault, but their fans are all crying idiots who complain about everything, like the whole world is on their back

  • Comment number 68.

    65. At 12:53 7th Sep 2011, sumo82 wrote:
    Stay on your feet & rhinomandave - Clearly you two have never played rugby as you seem to look at the game through the rose tinted spectacles of an armchair fan, the game is ran with high emotion and controlled aggression, sometimes this spills over and players take the law into their own hands but it is not just Wigan players????? Warrington and Leeds are probably the worst offenders !!
    You can look at several incidents in recent weeks were you would want the book thrown at players to try and take away the reasons what make this a great sport.
    It's fans like you that give RL a bad name.

    Played to a decent level mate , so don't make judgements on people you do not know .

    Hock is a disgrace of a person in real life and also on the rugby pitch .

    Fine example to kids , allowed back in the game after being a druggie and then tries to gouge a players eye out .

    What a big hard man he must be , all the trademarks of Terry Newton .

  • Comment number 69.

    68.At 22:53 7th Sep 2011, Stay on your feet wrote:
    Played to a decent level mate , so don't make judgements on people you do not know
    Hock is a disgrace of a person in real life and also on the rugby pitch .

    What a big hard man he must be , all the trademarks of Terry Newton

    Don't contradict youself mate

  • Comment number 70.

    @Stay on your feet, i have noticed your hate for these guys goes very deep, it is almost like a pychotic jealousy? Do i hint a bit of jealousy? That Wigan are doing so well you cant handle it because your poor excuse for a team (whoever that is because you are too scared to mention) are not winning anything? You constantly lay into Tomkins (by far the best fullback in the country) and Hock (was the best second rower in the country along with ellis until is silly mistake) and Newton (past wigan player what a suprise). I think we got a bit of a thing going on here with you being so depressed at wigans success.

    Get a grip mate Tomkins is best player in the league, hocks Gouging was over exagerated and he as served his drug ban, and you lay into newton? well thats just sick, you jealous jealous little school boy eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • Comment number 71.

    Very simple, Tomkins is showing a lot of immaturity, play acting, disrespecting opposing players and fans. Therefore like a naughty boy, he is getting scolded.

    It is up to him (and those around him) to point him in the right direction. Once he matures and shows respect he will get it back - in bucketfuls.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    Four Words = Player of the Year

  • Comment number 74.

    MattietheRhino: "The abuse of Tomkins from Leeds fans can be traced back to an incident about a year ago. Danny McGuire collided with George Carmont and did himself a very serious injury, Tomkins then sprinted 40 yards to stand over a prostrate McGuire and hurl verbal abuse at him."
    So Danny McGuire COLLIDED with Carmont did he? Ha Ha. He didn't blatantly obstruct him in a try scoring situation and then got his own comeuppance then?? If its all about verbal abuse why not ostracise Tommy Leuluai or Mark Riddell also?
    I recall, as a student, at Headingly in 1995 watching England v SA in the RL World Cup. I was in the South Stand and was astonished to hear Offiah booed every time he touched the ball - I assume a combination of him being a Wigan player at the time and also, sadly, his skin colour.
    I suggest, at this time where kick and clap (how many penalties??!!) being forced down our throats that all of us concentrate on enjoying our sport. I know the lad made a mistake at Wembley but for Heavens sake if we end up losing him to rah rah I'll never see Great Britain beat the Aussies - it's all I live for!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    @brettkenny - Bang on mate, Danny McGuire deserved everything he got that day.
    But sadly it's just the way Leeds play nowadays because they can't keep in touch with the better sides in the league.
    90% of the Leeds fans are morons and can't see another perspective on an incident.

  • Comment number 76.

    No time for the guy since watching him trying to "Do" Cunningham a few years back, the guy has talent but lacks the respect needed for it to be appreciated.

  • Comment number 77.

    If you watch the incident closely, McGuire injured himself an instant prior to then reaching out and grabbing Carmont - whether as a sub-conscious reaction or a professional foul, who knows? Whichever it was, I have never seen a player do what Tomkins then did.
    But the question of fair players being booed; McGuire is seldom booed, as he plays the game the way he is - a top bloke.
    Tomkins is one of my favourite players, but he constantly behaves like an ass.
    What hasn't been mentioned is that, after his pantomime performance at the last kick dead at Wembley, two big Wiganers dealt quite normally with Kirke, who was irked by Tomkins behavour. It was all sorted out between the other three, but it wasn't enough for Tomkins, who then ran behind Kirke to ruffle his hair.
    He's a great player, but a total arse!

  • Comment number 78.

    Completely agree with MattietheRhino & Clints Lunchbox.

    Tomkins is a good rugby league player, but i cant think of anyone who tries to tie people up in a tackle to get a penalty, more than tomkins does. He's always at it, and thats whats annoying, and the things mattietherhino and Clints Lunchbox said, its that kind of attitude that makes people boo him. Look at Ronaldo and Messi, arguably the two best football players in the world, but 1 has an attitude and throws hissy fits as well as himself on the floor, the other just gets on with it, and thats what makes Messi the better player, and Tomkins should adopt this approach, stop trying to screw people over and just play rugby, whilst not kicking Jon Clarke in the face!! Otherwise someone will have to set Benny Westwood on him again!

    As for the Gareth Hock comment, never heard something so stupid in all my life, the guy showed his true colours once again, getting hammered by Wire, frustration got to him, right im going to potentially blind Ben Harrison!


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