When he drove his children to the home in which he was raised, the response was not what Sam Tomkins expected.
‘Is that it?’ asked the eldest.
‘I thought it would be good to show them when I went back last Christmas,’ the father-of-four explains. ‘I told them they were lucky and that when I grew up I didn’t have lots of things, including a swimming pool. Then my son went, “You didn’t have a swimming pool?” and I was like, “Oh my God, I hate my kids!”’
Sam Tomkins has been in fine form for the Catalan Dragons this season
Tomkins is eyeing a fourth Grand Final win of his career at Old Trafford on Saturday night
Tomkins laughs at the memory. A man whose sublime skills thrilled his hometown hordes for years is certainly not in Wigan any more.
On Saturday night, knee niggle permitting, the 32-year-old will visit the familiar surroundings of Manchester United’s home on Grand Final night in unfamiliar kit, the famous cherry and white replaced by the Catalonian red and yellow of his current employers.
There were raised eyebrows when Tomkins, then 30, took the considerable talents that had landed him three Old Trafford glory nights from pieland to the Pyrenees two years ago.
There should not have been. This is a man who has made a career from making the right decisions.
Earlier this week he became only the fourth man to win the Man of Steel award more than once. Perhaps more importantly, he is loving life — and that swimming pool.
‘The quality of life is amazing,’ he says. ‘We have the pool in the garden. The weather is good. Every minute of the day my kids, who are all under six, are outside. They’re also in a full French-speaking school.
‘It was tough at the start. I had to peel my son off me on his first day and give him to this lady who couldn’t even say hello. I couldn’t speak any French at the time. I was like, “I’m the worst dad ever”, but if I look back