by Ben Lovell-Smith
Wales international centre Nick Tompkins is the latest Cardiff Blues signing to be announced for the 2020/21 season. Tompkins, who has started three out of five of Wales’ Guinness Six Nations matches so far, had been expected to sign with the Scarlets.
But, he has instead opted for the Capital where he will not have to fight into a World Cup semi-final centre partnership of Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes.
The Blues have also signed highly-rated number eight Sam Moore from Sale and Wales U20s fly-half Luke Scully from Worcester this season. But, Tompkins will be the most high profile player to cross the Severn Bridge since Liam Williams returned to Scarlets from Saracens in February.
The signing comes amid Saracens’ salary cap scandal, which has seen them relegated from England’s Gallagher Premiership after an investigation by Premier Rugby. Tompkins is contracted to Saracen’s until 2022, however with such a huge change in circumstances, a number of key players have already arranged their exit.
It is not yet clear whether the deal will be permanent or a one year loan deal, like that arranged by Bristol for England’s Ben Earl.
Tompkins will have to relocate to South Wales at the end of his Saracen’s deal regardless in order to continue playing for Wales under the WRU’s 60 cap rule.
It is likely that Tompkins will become centrally contracted by the WRU, with the Union paying eighty percent of his wages which is another bonus for the Blues.
This is a real coup for the Blues, who failed to qualify out of their European Challenge Cup pool and are currently languishing in fifth place of conference B of the Pro 14.
Alongside international teammates such as Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams and Hallam Amos, Tompkins will be part of an exciting side who will hope to improve their fortunes next season.
Tompkins was born in Sidcup, South-East London and grew up playing for Old Elthamians as a flanker.
Combining his tackling prowess and hard lines with pace, Tompkins switched to centre.
He went on to represent Kent and then London & South East Under-16s before joining the Saracens academy in 2012. International honours followed, with caps at under-18 and under-20s level for England.
Tompkins won the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship alongside the likes of Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels, and Wales back row Ross Moriarty.
At senior level, Tompkins helped Saracens to win the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2014/15 and grafted to work his way into the first team.
The 2018/19 season was his breakthrough year where he played a vital role in Saracens’ european and domestic double winning season. However, Alex Lozowksi holds the thirteen shirt at Saracens meaning a move to the Blues could be the first chance Tompkins has had to start week-in-week out in domestic rugby.
Tompkins qualifies for Wales via his Wrexham born Grandmother. Wayne Pivac was aware of his eligibility, having previously tried to tempt Tomkins to the Scarlets.
His arrival has been particularly timely for Wales, as stalwart Jonathan Davies was ruled out for the season with a knee injury after the Rugby World Cup which left Wales short of a replacement at centre.
Tompkins has stepped up and played exceptionally well throughout the tournament, performing especially well against England where he was instrumental in setting up a length of the field try.
Being six years Davies’ junior, the future is exciting for Wales, who now have a master and very capable apprentice at outside centre.
For Mulvihill, it will be a case of allowing Tompkins the creative freedom to replicate his Six Nations form in Blues colours.