St Helens prop Luke Thompson will join NRL club Canterbury Bulldogs with immediate effect, both clubs have confirmed.
The England and Great Britain international had already agreed on the transfer ahead of the 2021 season, however, after refusing to accept a pay cut to help Saints ensure financial stability in the wake of the Covid-19 suspension, the club have agreed to accept an undisclosed fee that will see him link up with the Australian side early.
Thompson has spent his entire career at St Helens, making over 160 appearances since his debut in 2013 and picking up seven international caps.
He was a crucial part of the 2019 Grand Final-winning side, becoming the first prop to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy since 1992 and picking up his second Super League winners ring.
“Getting the chance to join the Bulldogs and be a part of a club with so much history and with such passionate fans is very exciting,” the 25-year-old told the Bulldogs website.
“Having spoken to many people at the club and listened to their plans for the future, I know that they are building for success and I’m looking forward to being part of that.”
Saints chairman Eamonn McManus added: “St. Helens had been placed in a difficult position as Luke Thompson had opted not to participate in our club wide squad and staff pay reduction arrangement for the 2020 season, this being necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic and its significant commercial consequences.
“It was therefore agreed to be in everyone’s best interests for the transfer to take place now rather than at the end of the season as originally planned.”
Thompson will fly to Australia this week and will be free to link up with his new teammates once he has undergone the Australian Government’s mandatory 14-day isolation period.