Centre Nick Tompkins relishing Wales World Cup experience
Nick Tompkins says his first Rugby World Cup experience has been “everything and more” than he’d hoped for as Wales build towards the tournament’s business end.
The Wales centre has proved a stand-out performer, excelling during Pool C victories over Fiji and Australia.
Tompkins’ second-half try during Wales’ record 40-6 victory over the Wallabies highlighted his impact as part of an impressive midfield combination alongside George North.
The pair will team up again on Saturday when Wales require only a point against Georgia at Stade de la Beaujoire to win their group.
With a quarter-final place already secured, attention will then turn to a likely last-eight appointment with Argentina or Japan in Marseille next week.
Wales have reached the World Cup knockout phase for a fourth successive time under head coach Warren Gatland, and Tompkins is relishing a first taste of rugby union’s global spectacular.
“I have never experienced anything like this,” Saracens star Tompkins said.
“The build-up, the hype, seeing how proud and pleased the families are. It has been everything and more.
“I want to just keep getting better and keep pushing myself. There are a lot of things I need to improve on.
“I am happy with some areas, but there are some things I really need to push myself on. I hope there is more to come – I don’t know where the limit is.
“If I want to be the best I can be, you look at some of the other centres out there in the tournament and how well they are doing, and you want to emulate that.”
Wales have risen from the low points of a home loss to Georgia under Gatland’s predecessor Wayne Pivac 11 months ago and a Six Nations campaign dominated by off-field issues to deliver an impressive World Cup showing.
And Tompkins has underlined squad dynamics on and off the pitch as a key factor behind Wales’ success since World Cup preparations began in late May.
“Being together (for five months) means you can have those little conversations and make little tweaks,” he added.
“It has been really healthy, and it has been all of us pushing each other. We all like each other, and the atmosphere is fun as well.”
Even during some inevitably feisty moments on the training pitch, Tompkins says that humour is never far away.
“You have a laugh about it afterwards,” he said. “Whatever happens, you get laughed at afterwards, especially with this group.
“You can get torn to pieces at times, but that kind of thing is healthy for a group. You need it.”
That also extends to the squad’s fines committee, with Tompkins regularly on the receiving end for all kinds of misdemeanours.
“I’ve worn wrong shirts, I think I have forgotten suit shoes before,” he added.
“I was also late to one meeting and forgot my passport. I think it is because I am too laid-back.”
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