Saints team-mates back Thompson’s NRL move

Mark Percival says St Helens star Luke Thompson will head to the NRL next year with the full backing of his team-mates.
The loss of the powerful Great Britain and England forward to Canterbury Bulldogs is bound to be felt by the reigning Super League champions.
But centre Percival insists he and the rest of Kristian Woolf’s squad are pleased for 24-year-old Thompson, who has signed a three-year Bulldogs deal, starting in 2021.
“I’ve known Luke for a long time, we’ve become quite close, and he is a great bloke as well as a great player,” said centre Percival, 25, on a club podcast.
“He works so hard on the training ground and in the gym. Everything about him screams professionalism.
“Of course we’ll miss him, and we’re all gutted he’s leaving, but we understand he wants to go and test himself over there, and we all hope it goes well for him.”
Thompson has been with his hometown club since he was eleven, and has made more than 150 first-team appearances.
He was named man of the match, winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy in last year’s Grand Final win over Salford, and he made the Super League Dream Team for the second year running.
Saints were keen to keep Thompson, who also played in their 2014 Grand Final victory over Wigan.
He was also a target of NRL clubs Gold Coast Titans, led by former Saints coach Justin Holbrook, and New Zealand Warriors.
Meanwhile, Saints stalwart James Roby has revealed he was almost tempted by an offer to join Parramatta Eels back in 2013.
“There have been approaches from some NRL clubs over the years, and I have listened to what they had to say and decided to stay here,” said the 34-year-old hooker on the podcast.
“Probably the closest I came to moving was to Parramatta back in 2013, more as a lifestyle choice than because of the rugby, but my heart is with St Helens and always will be.
“Looking back, it’s probably just as well I didn’t got to Parramatta, because a few years later, they had all the issues with the salary cap.”