Dogs to wait and see on Thompson NRL debut

Scott Bailey

Canterbury will wait to assess how star English prop Luke Thompson emerges out of lockdown before deciding when to unleash him on the NRL.

Thompson will fly to Australia this weekend to join the Bulldogs early, after previously inking a three-year deal that was set to begin in 2021.

The English international has been in lockdown in England since March, and will still have to serve two weeks of isolation in a Melbourne hotel.

He will however have a gym inserted into the room, while the club will oversee his diet and nutrition through the 14-day stay before eventually joining club training.

"Hopefully in two or three weeks we'll be able to see him and get him out there, because he is champing at the bit to play some footy," coach Dean Pay said.

"Once he gets here to the club we'll assess where he's at. He looks after himself and is a naturally fit kid.

"He's a good player. He's been a quality player over there for a long time. He is keen to get over here and test himself."

Thompson has set the goal of being on the field by round nine against Brisbane, on July 11.

The 25-year-old has played 158 games for St Helens after being handed his debut by Nathan Brown on his 18th birthday in 2013.

By the following year he'd won a grand final before making his England debut in 2018.

"It wasn't hard to pick him as a teenager," Brown told AAP.

"His greatest attribute is his ability to handle punishment and keep turning up and turning up.

"He's quite mobile for his size. But his work rate is phenomenal. And his ability to keep going and going is huge. That's what makes him the player he is.

"For a middle forward he is quite agile. He did play a lot of his footy in the early part of his career as an edge backrower but he is more suited to the middle."

Thompson will look to follow the likes of Sam Burgess, James Graham and Canberra's British pack in making an impact in the NRL.

Because while backs from the Super League have often failed to make it in Australia, Brown reasoned that forwards actually have an advantage heading south.

"The good English forwards, the NRL isn't even a challenge for them. It's easy," the former Newcastle coach said.

"What happens with all the good English players, the whole lot of them made their debut at 17.

"Because the depth in the clubs over there is nothing like out here, at 17 they are playing big minutes because they are generally better than the other players.

"They are playing against grown men as kids.

"So coming out here to the NRL at 24 or 25 when they have played 150 Super League games and been beaten around the chops, it's not a hard transition at all."