‘Sam Tomkins’ influence is everything for me,’ says his deputy

Newly-crowned Man of Steel Sam Tomkins will have a big influence on Saturday’s Grand Final whether he plays or not, says his Catalans Dragons understudy Arthur Mourgue.

Mourgue, 10 years Tomkins’ junior, is standing by once more in case the England captain fails to shake off a knee injury in time for the Old Trafford title decider with St Helens.

The 22-year-old Frenchman, who scored a try from full-back in his side’s 28-10 semi-final win over Hull KR, says he is confident in the makeshift role but will be just as happy to drop to the bench to accommodate his mentor.

Newly-crowned Man of Steel Sam Tomkins has had a big influence on Catalans utility player Arthur Mourge
Newly-crowned Man of Steel Sam Tomkins has had a big influence on Catalans utility player Arthur Mourge

“Sam’s influence is everything for me,” Mourgue said. “I play this game the best I can and he’s the right example.

“He is very open, in training he is always giving advice and he’s very smart. He’s sees play before everybody else, he sees the space.”

Mourgue is the pick of the crop of outstanding French youngsters who have played key roles in the Dragons’ success in 2021.

A specialist half-back, he modelled his game on the long-serving Thomas Bosc, now Steve McNamara’s right-hand man on the coaching staff, and Australian scrum-half Scott Dureau as he came through the junior ranks but is ready to fill in anywhere to help the team and, if not required at full-back, is likely to provide back-up for hooker Michael McIlorum.

“I am sure I will be on the bench on Saturday and come on at nine but, if Sam is not available, I will be at one,” he said.

Manchester United v West Ham United – Premier League – Old Trafford
Arthur Mourgue says he will be nervous running out at Old Trafford (PA Images/Martin Rickett)

“I know what I have to do, everybody on the team has to be ready for this game. You train all year to play in a game like this.

“I always wanted to play for this club at the top level and this year I move a lot of positions. It’s important for me to have experience everywhere, I can see so much of every part of the game.”

Mourgue performs the versatile role Super League’s player of the year Jack Welsby has fulfilled so impressively for Saturday’s opponents St Helens and has played in all but three of the Catalans’ 26 league and cup matches so far this year, far more than he anticipated.

He admits he will be nervous on his first visit to Old Trafford but oozes enough confidence to suggest it will not be a hindrance.

“I’ve seen the stadium on TV and thought it would be great if one day I can play there,” he said. “Now I get the opportunity, it’s crazy.

“I will be a little bit nervous but I know what I have to do and I know how we have to play to win this game so we will find a way to go past that.”