Nick Tompkins: Wales centre aims for British and Irish Lions dream


Nick Tompkins after scoring his try against Italy in his Wales debut which was the first of his four Wales caps so far
Nick Tompkins after scoring his try against Italy on his Wales debut, the first of his four caps so far

Centre Nick Tompkins says he will concentrate on his Dragons and Wales goals to help him realise his British and Irish Lions dream next summer.

Tompkins has signed on a season-long loan from European champions Saracens, who have been relegated from the Premiership for salary cap breaches.

He is set to be in Wayne Pivac’s autumn Wales squad, which he hopes will lead to a Lions place in South Africa.

“That would be the ultimate dream,” Tompkins told the Scrum V podcast.

Pivac names his squad on Tuesday, 6 October for the six remaining internationals which includes a friendly against France, a remaining Six Nations game against Scotland and four Autumn Nations Cup matches.

“The dream is there, but the goal is with Wales and the Dragons,” said Tompkins.

“Firstly I want to help the Dragons improve however I can and perform on a high stage with them.

“But then I made this move as well because I wanted to focus on international rugby and put a stamp down on that and prove why I am there.

“After that you are looking at the Lions as well. I started small because the big end goal has to be there because you need the motivation.

“I would be lying if I said I did not have anything to work towards and it has to be international rugby and why not the Lions? I am not saying I am making it, I am saying I am going to try.

“The goal is with Wales, trying to get into the camp, get into that starting line-up and control what I can control. That is all I can do.”

Tompkins, 25, is a former England Under-20s World Cup winner and played for the Saxons second-string senior side, but was never capped by Eddie Jones.

He was a shock inclusion in Pivac’s first Six Nations squad after it was revealed he was eligible for Wales through a Welsh grandmother from Wrexham.

Nick Tompkins was part of the England Under-20s World Cup winning side in 2014
Nick Tompkins was part of the England Under-20s World Cup winning side in 2014

“There were fears of people accepting me and I was worried about a backlash,” said Tompkins.

“It would be the acceptance of players and fans and they all turned out to be brilliant.

“I very quickly realised how passionate the Welsh fans are here so whatever you do is scrutinised rightly or wrongly.

“There was no hesitation. To play international rugby for your country, whoever it may be, is an honour.

“I look back at it now and wish I had made it sooner because it was such a good decision for me and it’s perfect.”

He enjoyed a memorable campaign of highs and lows. Tompkins scored a debut try as a replacement against Italy before being exposed defensively in Ireland in his first start.

Tompkins was outstanding in the defeat against France where he made a record number of carries, but also threw an intercept pass that resulted in a key try for Romain Ntamack.

Then there was the little matter of facing the land of his birth, England, at Twickenham.

“Coming on against Italy was just mind-blowing and I scored which was nuts and I could not get my head around it,” said Tompkins.

“It was the best thing I have ever done and knowing my whole family were in the crowd at my first game, it all aligned.

“Coming off that high and starting against Ireland and not having that good a game, then playing against France and having quite a good game but throwing an interception pass – I was thinking ‘why can’t you just be a normal, solid rugby player’!

“It was so up and down, but overall so amazing.”

Nick Tompkins will play for the Dragons for the 2020-21 season before returning to Saracens where he has signed a long-term contract
Nick Tompkins will play for the Dragons for the 2020-21 season before returning to Saracens where he has signed a long-term contract

Since the Six Nations was curtailed Tompkins has joined the Dragons revolution on loan and is due to return to Saracens after they play in the second-tier Championship in the 2020-21 season.

“It was exciting on so many different levels,” he explained.

“Coming from Sarries and quite a chaotic situation which is tough for those lads, I don’t know how they are doing it.

“The uncertainty there is mental and is still going on. As much as I miss the boys, to get away from that and to go and focus on the Dragons has been a godsend.

“It has given me a different task and standing in the group.

“With Sarries I was a bit of a cog in a machine and rightly so because there are so many unbelievable players there like Lions and experienced people like Brad Barritt.

“I come to the Dragons and I am now a senior player and have to take on a role I have not done before. I am out of my comfort zone and learning a lot which I definitely need to do.

“It’s so refreshing to have that kind of outlook and be in that role. That’s my journey and what I need to work out.”

Tompkins has been joined by fellow Wales internationals Jamie Roberts and Jonah Holmes at Rodney Parade, but results since rugby’s restart have not matched the expectation of some.

A draw against Ospreys has been followed by heavy defeats by Scarlets, Bristol and Leinster.

“We are all getting pretty tired about talking about our potential with this group,” said Tompkins.

“We now need to be talking about what we are going to do with here and now.”

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