St Helens coach Kristian Woolf insists the club is confident of retaining Luke Thompson, despite a raft of offers from the NRL.
The England & Great Britain forward is off-contract at the end of the season and is understood to have attracted interest from several clubs, with Canterbury Bulldogs tipped as the frontrunners to sign the 24-year-old star.
The Bulldogs are willing to offer Thompson a huge contract to join the club, but St Helens are also expected to offer their star forward a lucrative deal to remain at the Totally Wicked Stadium beyond 2020.
Saints have run an impressive salary cap despite their squad dominating the competition for the past two seasons and have an option to sign him on a marquee contract.
“I’ve spoken to him about it,” Woolf said.
“I understand the lure of the NRL and the attraction. I’ve just made the decision with my family to come to something that excites me. For a guy who has grown up in England it would be the same excitement about a different challenge in a different country as well. I certainly understand that and we’ve spoken about it.
“Finances come into play too. At the end of the day the NRL salary cap is a lot higher than the Super League one and that needs to be considered. Also with Luke, he’s a very good character and he’s looking at everything. He’s looking at what’s important about staying at St Helens as well. He’s been here a long time and knows he is part of a good group. There are a lot of things from him to consider that would keep him here too.
“From our club’s point of view we think we’ve a real chance of him staying. That’s certainly what we hope he does. One of the attractions for me as a coach was working with someone like Luke Thompson, so from my point of view I hope he stays.”
Woolf went on to admit that the club is in frequent talks with Thompson on the matter, with conversations remaining open and honest.
“Luke is like that and the people at the club are that way too, it’s certainly the way I am as well.
“Everyone understands that it’s a difficult decision. When you’re one of the best players in the world in your position, you’re going to have options and when you’ve got options it makes things difficult. That’s what he’s got at the moment, but he’ll make the right decision.”