English star prop freed early to join Dogs

Pamela Whaley
The Bulldogs will welcome GB international Luke Thompson to the NRL earlier than expected

Canterbury expect to unleash English prop Luke Thompson on the NRL within the next month, with the St Helens star to jet in to Australia this week.

The 25-year-old will undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period when he arrives from England before being freed up to join Bulldogs training.

Thompson was set to join the Bulldogs at the end of the season, with a contract until the end of 2023, but his early release from St Helens was confirmed on Friday night.

The England and Great Britain international has played 157 matches for the 2019 Super League champions and was man of the match in last season's grand final.

His addition to the Bulldogs side will significantly boost their pack after losing forwards Corey Harawira-Naera (contract terminated) and Joe Stimson (injured) from their starting side in 2020.

"Getting the chance to join the Bulldogs and be a part of a club with so much history and with such passionate fans is very exciting," Thompson said.

"Having spoken to many people at the club and listened to their plans for the future, I know that they are building for success and I'm looking forward to being part of that."

St Helens had fought hard to keep him, and in a club statement chairman Eamonn McManus said: "St Helens had been placed in a difficult position as Luke Thompson had opted not to participate in our club-wide squad and staff pay reduction arrangement for the 2020 season.

"It was therefore agreed to be in everyone's best interests for the transfer to take place now rather than at the end of the season as originally planned."

Any transfer fee paid to St Helens does not count on the Bulldogs' NRL salary cap, but goes into their football department spend.