Saints new arrival Thompson makes long term plans

Joel Thompson is already preparing for life beyond Rugby League.

But he insists there is still plenty of juice left in the tank as he starts a two-year contract at St Helens.

The Aussie second rower is one of four new signings as coach Kristian Woolf sets his sights on securing a third successive Super League title.

Thompson, 32, brings plenty of experience, with more than 230 appearances for Canberra, St George Illawarra and, most recently, Manly.

Nicknamed ‘Goat’, the Indigenous All Stars representative player has been praised for his durability and strong work ethic.

Thompson is also noted for his activity in the community. In 2012 he set up the ‘The Mindset’ project to boost mental health and promote coping strategies.

The father of two would be happy to get involved in similar work in the St Helens area, and will also continue his business development studies.

“I have a friend who runs a railway construction company, and my long-term plan is to go in with him when I go back to Australia,” explained Thompson.

“I enjoy different challenges, and I’m going to keep my studies going while I’m over here, but of course rugby is the reason I’m here, and that’s the main focus.”

Thompson, who gained widespread attention when he played on despite splitting his tongue open during a game last season, says he has settled well into St Helens.

“It’s a tough decision to drag your wife and two daughters to the other side of the world at any time, never mind during a pandemic,” he said.

“But I have fancied coming to the UK ever since playing for the (St George Illawarra) Dragons against Warrington in the Word Club Series in 2015.

“I liked the passion of the fans over here and the feel for clubs in the various towns, and I wanted to experience it for myself.”

Manly released Thompson from a three-year contract so he could replace retiring Zeb Taia in the Saints pack.

“When the chance came, I did my research on St Helens and spoke to a number of people about the club, and I liked what I found, because it wad all pretty positive.

“They spoke highly of the people around the club, and that was backed up when I spoke to the coach.

“My wife and I discussed the move, and she and my two daughters were fully up for it, which made all the difference, because I’m taking them away from family and friends.

“We’ve really enjoyed it since we’ve been here, and while Covid has its issues, you just have to crack on.

“When it comes to the rugby, I’m looking forward to getting into the season, respecting the jersey and doing all I can to keep our success going.”

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