Tomkins will thrive at Warriors: Hayne

Jarryd Hayne predicts Sam Tomkins will be a hit in the NRL before the Englishman's much-anticipated debut for New Zealand.

Hayne will be the first man to mark Tomkins in the NRL since he made the switch from Wigan when Parramatta hosts the Warriors at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.

Tomkins made an immediate impression at the inaugural Auckland Nines, where he was a constant threat behind a powerful Warriors pack.

Hayne, who was arguably the player of the World Cup from the uncustomary position of centre, believed the Wigan star would thrive in his new surroundings.

''He's going to be great for the NRL, he's going to handle it,'' Hayne said. ''He will find the week in, week out footy a bit tough but, skill-wise and ability-wise, he's up there with the best … It's exciting, he's probably the first back from England to come over.''

Tomkins is the latest in a growing list of Englishmen testing themselves in the NRL.

Adrian Morley, Gareth Ellis, James Graham and the Burgess brothers have all made their mark in recent years, while Lee Mossop will make his debut for the Eels mid season. However, few backs have tried their luck to date.

Tomkins is a genuine superstar in Britain, where he scored a phenomenal 144 tries from just 150 games, has been awarded the Man of Steel award and already won Challenge Cups and a grand final. However, the next challenge for the 24-year-old will be his biggest.

''He's a class player, one of the boys commented the other day 'that Tomkins can play','' Hayne said.

''From an England point of view, they are not known as much for their skill and their ability to create big plays but he has that. England players are very tough and brutal, so for a bloke like him to make the trip and test himself, he couldn't have come to a more skilful club than the Warriors.

''For him to come and dip his toes in the big water over here, it's exciting and great for the game.''

Hayne said the Eels will be wary of Tomkins' combination with livewire halfback Shaun Johnson in their opening clash of the year.

''They are in great form - the Warriors did well at the Auckland Nines and smashed the Broncos as well,'' Hayne said.

''Shaun Johnson looks to be full of confidence and playing good footy.''

The clash of the fullbacks will be one of the highlights of the encounter. Another will be the return of William Hopoate, who plays his first NRL game after a two-year absence as a Mormon missionary.

While there are high hopes Hopoate will reclaim the form that allowed him to claim a Blues jersey and a premiership with Manly, his Eels teammates stressed it would take the strike centre time to find his best form.

''The thing he has impressed everyone with is his training ethic,'' halfback Luke Kelly said.

''The way he works is unbelievable. We can't expect miracles from him, he's been away for two years, but as the year goes on you'll see some good footy out of him.''

The story Tomkins will thrive at Warriors: Hayne first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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