Joel Thompson knew five years ago that he wanted to play in Super League.
A fiery, full-blooded World Club Challenge victory over Warrington whilst he was with St George was the catalyst the sparked a Super League dream within him.
“I knew then,” he told League Express.
“The atmosphere that night, the passion, everything like that, since then I’ve always said I’ve wanted to have a crack over here.”
Now, that dream has come to fruition.
The backrower has arrived in the UK ahead of a two-year stint with Super League champions St Helens.
It wasn’t the first opportunity he’s had to head to England, having come close in previous years. Now, however, was the right time.
“There have been offers before I signed my last Manly deal,” he revealed.
“I still had a deal on the table but it was a good opportunity to come over to a club like Saints; there are players I’ve played with and against who had nothing but good things to say about the club and the place. And I’ve got to say everything I heard has been backed up so far. I’ve not been treated as well as this by any club throughout my career, my partner has just been blown away by it all, how accommodating and welcoming everyone has been.”
Thompson insists his move had nothing to do with money.
“I would probably have made more in Oz, to be honest,” he said.
“But the chance to test myself in a different competition, on the other side of the world, to play in different stadiums and to prove yourself to a new audience, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”
As he walked the halls of the Totally Wicked Stadium, Thompson admitted to being drawn to the club’s history, and the number of overseas players that have left their mark on the club.
“They’ve had some great players; Jamie Lyon and Kevin Ward were two. I love the history of the game and I was really interested in that. I’m sure there will be pressure on me, but I’ll be putting pressure on myself.
“Over the years I’ve been battling at the bottom, and involved in a bit of a shit fight, but coming to the back-to-back champions and a club with a rich history, that’s pretty cool. I love that.
“We’ve really loved it so far. When we were tossing it up and you’re talking about swapping the beaches for the UK, you do think hard, but I’ve wanted to do this for some time and everything has been backed up so far.
“We’ve been pulled up twice by fans so far and I can’t wait to get across all that; we were walking through Liverpool and we had a guy come up to us who was a fan of another club and another who was a very passionate Saints fan, which was great.
“We’re really happy, as I said. My wife can’t get over how good everyone has been with us.”
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