English forwards have always seemed to transition to the NRL far better than the backs with a list of successful forwards to crack the NRL including St Helens’ James Graham, a young Sam Burgess moving from Bradford Bulls and then Leeds Rhinos’ Adrian Morley who became one of the most feared men in the NRL.
For one current England forward the transition hasn’t been as smooth and in large part through no fault of his own with Luke Thompson having made the switch from St Helens to Canterbury Bulldogs ahead of the 2020 season.
Thompson was coming off the back of a 2019 Grand Final winning year and was a highly prized prop aged just 24 when he made the switch.
Now aged 28 and Thompson is facing a fight to secure a new contract in the NRL with the forward’s contract expiring at the end of the season.
The inability to get on the field and prove his worth has hampered negotiations so far, particularly given his reported huge salary of $800,000.
That would prove a stumbling block for most Super League clubs given that equates to £415,000 suggesting Thompson would have to take a major cut given his injury issues.
However Thompson returned to the field for a match for the first time in five months this past weekend as he representing the Bulldogs reserves in the New South Wales Cup and he now effectively has a month to show that his play deserves a new contract.
It was initially reported by Fox Sports that the prop played 32 minutes, carried 10 times for 103 metres and made 15 tackles whilst missing two.
As the first hit out since February it wasn’t bad going and it’s certainly caught the attention of Bulldogs Director of Football Gus Gould, who responded to a fan on Twitter as to what Thompson’s situation is going forward.
Luke played 32 minutes in NSW Cup last weekend. That was only his second game appearance since May last year. Concussion and serious ankle injury has certainly restricted his game time. Hopefully he plays a few NRL matches before the end of this year. We will sit and discuss his… https://t.co/xu4iFCei2n
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) August 1, 2023
Gould said in full: “Luke played 32 minutes in NSW Cup last weekend. That was only his second game appearance since May last year. Concussion and serious ankle injury has certainly restricted his game time. Hopefully he plays a few NRL matches before the end of this year. We will sit and discuss his future when the season is over.”
The Bulldogs’ next game would pit Thompson against fellow England international Dom Young with the Knights hosting Canterbury and with just five rounds of NRL action left, any game time Thompson can get to prove he is fully fit and healthy will be a serious boost to his future prospects.