St Helens suffer huge blow with Luke Thompson heading to Australia

St Helens prop Luke Thompson will leave the Super League champions at the end of the season to join NRL outfit Canterbury Bulldogs.

The 24-year-old’s contract was set to expire in November and he has decided not to renew his deal in order to test himself Down Under.

Thompson, who has been at Saints since the age of 11, has made 158 appearances for the Red Vee, scoring 25 tries, and helped the club to three League Leaders’ Shields and two Grand Final triumphs in 2014 and 2019.

Thompson became the first prop since 1992 to win the Harry Sunderland trophy for his man-of-the-match performance during St Helens’ 23-6 Grand Final victory over Salford at Old Trafford in October, before he made two appearances for Great Britain during the wretched Lions tour this winter.

Club and international team-mate Alex Walmsley and former coach Justin Holbrook have hailed Thompson as the one of the best props in the world, with Canterbury winning the race to his signature for the 2021 season.

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus said in a statement: “We were informed last week that Luke has decided to join Canterbury Bulldogs next season.

“We accept and totally respect Luke’s decision and wish him nothing but success in his career and in his life. We are absolutely sure that he will be absolutely committed to the club and to his team-mates for the rest of this season.

“There’s no hiding from the fact that this is a bitter disappointment to all of us as Luke has been connected to the club since the age of 11 and has developed into an absolute top player at 24 years old.

“If ever he decides to return to England and to Super League then there would be a red carpet waiting for him at St Helens.”

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