England captain Sam Tomkins is relishing the prospect of leading his country on his home club ground in Perpignan next month - when the postponed Rugby League World Cup which will now be played in the autumn of 2022 will be in the minds of England’s Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair teams.
Tomkins had been eagerly anticipating the honour of captaining England in the opening World Cup fixture against Samoa on October 23 at St James’ Park in Newcastle - a ground where he starred for Catalans in their stunning victory against St Helens in Super League’s Magic Weekend.
Instead he will reacquaint himself with the visitors' dressing room at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, and almost certainly line up against a few of his Dragons team-mates - with the emergence of so much young French talent this season one of the most striking features of their first League Leaders' Shield.
England Head Coach Shaun Wane has already underlined the importance of the France game in refocusing on the new dates for the World Cup - which will still kick off with England v Samoa in Newcastle, now on October 15, 2022.
"It's a huge year for French rugby league and playing France versus England in Perpignan is a perfect situation," said Tomkins.
"We’ve got more quality young French players than ever before and a lot of them will be playing in the French team. What we're doing for French Rugby League, along with Toulouse, is massive.
"That should make it a really good test for us at the end of the season - and we need to spend some time together as an England squad with the World Cup now in 2022.
"It's good for us to have the new date for the Samoa game to focus on, and Magic Weekend was a reminder of what a great place Newcastle will be for the World Cup opener.
"The atmosphere was fantastic for our game against St Helens, and it's exciting to think of the England fans packing it out and getting behind us for the first match of the World Cup.
"I know it will be the same for Emily Rudge, Tom Halliwell and their England teams - they'll be pleased to have Women's and Wheelchair internationals arranged for this autumn as well looking ahead to the World Cup next year, and it's good for us to have another double header with the Women’s international in Perpignan."