Ten weeks into the NRL season both the Warriors and Sam Tomkins are hoping the awkward teething phase is over.
After an up-and-down start, as Super League-import Tomkins adjusted to the increased intensity of the NRL, the Warriors now know the secret to success is to simply give him the ball and do it often.
With the obvious exception of hooker Nathan Friend, Tomkins touches the pill the most of any Warrior other than star halfback Shaun Johnson.
Heading into Round 10, his 347 possessions are also second only to Billy Slater’s 356 among starting fullbacks in 2014.
Watch the NRL LIVE with a 2-week free trial.
Get the NRL Digital Pass now!
“I think the more times Sam touches the ball the better for us,” coach Andrew McFadden declared.
“I need to give him some roaming role where he can chime in where he wants.
“It is tough when you haven’t played with people before, as he learns to play with Shaun (Johnson), Chad (Townsend) and Thomas (Leuluai), those combinations take time.
“There is an instinctual thing on the football field that takes time to build.”
Tomkins himself says he is most comfortable in a role similar to the one he played against the Raiders last week, which allows him to slot in at first receiver and showcase his playmaking game.
The increased involvement against the Green Machine spawned a try assist and line break assist for Tomkins, but more importantly appeared to free up Johnson and allow him to play a more relaxed style.
“I played in the halves for a number of years back in the Super League before moving to fullback, so it’s a position I feel comfortable in,” Tomkins said.
“I have got a little bit more of a roaming role now which suits my style of play, and as the team is gelling better so am I.
“I am a bit more settled now, that comes from a lot more training and game time with the boys. Combinations throughout the team are working now.”
In the eyes of many Warriors fans, and certain sections of the media, Tomkins has failed to live up to the reputation and pay packet he arrived in New Zealand with.
But the statistics tell a different story, with the English international matching up across several categories when compared to Greg Inglis, arguably the best fullback in the world right now.
He has scored the same number of tries as Inglis (5), has the same number of line break assists (8) and has made more runs with the ball.
Tomkins has proven a quality player on the NRL Fantasy front too.
His 38-point average has him as the 12th highest scoring winger/fullback in the competition, and the former Wigan Warrior is owned by more than 15 per cent of all NRL Fantasy players.
Looking ahead to the big game against the Bulldogs at Waikato Stadium this Sunday, Tomkins confirmed revenge is weighing heavily on the Warriors’ minds, following the last-minute 21-20 loss to the Doggies in Round 6.
“We know that we have been building since the last time we played the Bulldogs, that was the best performance of the year for us at that stage and we have got better every week since then,” he said.
“I think that [Round 6] game we lost for ourselves, if we had been a little bit smarter we would have won it. We gave them too much ball.
“There is a reason they are the number one side in the competition for defence. They are really structured which means when you have got the ball you have got to be smart with it. We have learnt from that and hopefully we can get one back over them.”