Sam Tomkins says Leigh Centurions will have learned from their Middle 8s slump last season - but he thinks it will be a tough ask for them to break into Super League.
The Wigan full-back is about to embark on his first Super 8s campaign with the Warriors since returning from a stint in the NRL.
And while confidence is high in the Centurions’ camp ahead of their Middle 8s opener against London tomorrow, Tomkins thinks this year’s bottom four Super League sides will keep their top flight status.
“I’d say they had a better team last year to be honest,” said Tomkins.
“They put some good performances together this year but they were probably better last year.”
Leigh are heading into their seven-game push for the top flight in stellar form, having lost just once all season to finish nine points clear of the chasing pack.
And Tomkins says even though he doesn’t expect Leigh to get promoted, they will be better equipped to face Super League opposition in the 8s this year, after losing six of their seven games last term.
“They will have learned from their experiences in the Middle 8s last year,” he explained.
“They went so well all season and cruised into the Middle 8s and weren’t too successful so they’ll learn from that.
“But I can’t see any Championship teams getting in Super League.”
While Leigh have so far enjoyed a strong season, Middle 8s rivals Leeds, on the other hand, have endured the embarrassment of going from champions to fighting for their survival.
But Tomkins expects them to recover and be among the top flight again in 2017.
“You would have never expected Leeds to go from winning a treble to being the worst team in the comp,” he said of the side that beat Wigan 18-16 last month.
“They have a lot of good players, they just can’t seem to play well. I think they won’t have any problems in the Middle 8s.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t lose a game in the Middle 8s and I’m very confident they’ll be in Super League next year.”