Huge signing set to replace NRL bound Wigan Warriors star

Wigan Warriors are now the Super League Champions after defeating Catalans Dragons in the Grand Final.

Jake Wardle won the Man of the Match with 15 votes with Harry Smith a close second with 14.

But many felt hard working loose-forward Morgan Smithies was also deserving of the Harry Sunderland Award.

Smithies has again impressed in 2023 and is now expected to join the Canberra Raiders in the NRL next year.

But Wigan already have a replacement for him in the shape of their own big signing: former St Helens star and Harry Sunderland Award winner (2019) Luke Thompson.

The 28-year old will make the move from Canterbury Bulldogs for whom he made 42 appearances since leaving St Helens in 2020.

Thompson won two Super League Grand Finals with St Helens in 2014 and 2019, and was the Harry Sunderland Trophy winner in the latter. He was also named in the Super League Dream Team in 2018 and 2019.

He has made seven appearances for England, including featuring in the Rugby League World Cup 2021 last year.  He also made three appearances for Great Britain on the 2019 Lions tour.

Warriors Head Coach, Matt Peet said: “Luke is an outstanding acquisition for the club. He is a quality front-rower and brings a wealth of experience.

“We look forward to welcoming him and his family to the club.”

On signing, Luke Thompson said: “I can’t wait to be back playing in the Super League with crowds up and the squad strong.

“It’s a really exciting time to be joining Wigan. They’re playing great rugby and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

They have also signed Sam Walters from Leeds Rhinos. The 22-year-old will join the Warriors on a 3-year deal. Walters is a Halton Farnworth Hornets junior and joined the Rhinos Academy from Widnes Vikings in 2019, going on to win Academy Player of the Year in his first season.

He made his Super League debut in the back-row for the Rhinos against Catalans Dragons in September 2020 and has played over 20 Super League games for the Club. He started from the bench in the 2022 Super League Grand Final and has also had loan spells at Batley Bulldogs and Bradford Bulls.

On signing for the Club, Walters said: “I am looking forward to joining Wigan Warriors next season. To be part of such a successful team is exciting and I can’t wait to develop my game and become a small part in future success.

He added: “Thank you to Leeds Rhinos for the last few years but I felt the time was right for me to take on this challenge. “

Wigan Head Coach Matt Peet said: “Sam has the skill and stature to play through the middle or as a back rower. We look forward to welcoming him and supporting him to fulfil his undoubted potential.“