The Bulldogs have been dealt a huge blow only days out from their opening NRL match of the season after forward Luke Thompson was ruled out for up to six months. Thompson was helped off the field during a Bulldogs training session after the English international damaged his foot in an accidental mishap.
Thompson's injury came at a horror time, with the Bulldogs only hours away from announcing their starting line-up for their opening match against Manly on Saturday. Bulldogs general manager of football Phil Gould confirmed the horror injury.
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"Unfortunately Luke Thompson's injury is quite serious," Gould wrote. "Prognosis is for minimum six months recovery. Possibly longer depending on surgery type.
"Very sad for Luke and the club. Thunderbolts happen."
Unfortunately for Thompson, the forward has battled a number of concussions throughout his three seasons at the club. He has played 38 games during his time at the Bulldogs. Thomson returned from the World Cup in good form having impressed for England in their semi-final run.
Thompson joins fellow forward Tevita Pangai Jr in the casualty ward, the Tonga prop looking at a month out of action with a calf injury. The Bulldogs named Max King and Ryan Sutton in the front row for Saturday's clash with Manly, the latter in line for his club debut after switching from Canberra this off-season.
Luke Thompson suffered a Lisfranc (midfoot) injury that will require surgery, with an initial expectation of “minimum 6 months recovery”. Usual return to play range in the NRL is 3-5 months, but can extend beyond this in severe cases if multiple/complex fractures & ligament tears pic.twitter.com/TsW3sc6ZhD
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) March 1, 2023
Hulking youngster Franklin Pele has been named on the bench, with fellow prop Jayden Tanner added in place of Thompson. Gould added that the club won't 'panic' after all the injuries to the front rowers and that the young players will have an opportunity to step up.
Manly will be playing at Brookvale Oval and will head into the match against the Bulldogs as strong favourites to start the season. The NRL world was quick to wish Thompson a speedy recovery after the horror injury.
This one hurts. That's footy!!!
— Adam Houda (@LawyerAdamHouda) February 28, 2023
One thing we won’t do is panic. We won’t drop our heads. We will give young blokes a chance. Adversity is a teacher Luke Thompson, Tevita Pangai Jnr, Chris Patolo Sam Hughes all unavailable for extended period. Provides opportunity for young players to show what they can do. https://t.co/oECloKuI35
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) March 1, 2023
Gutted for Thommo especially after missing so much of last year. Hopefully he gets the support to bounce back once more. I know whoever comes in will do the blue and white proud but definitely sucks for Luke.
— Trevor T (@trevajct) February 28, 2023
Ahhh jeez. And after all his struggles last year too. I’m sure you guys will take good care of him though.
— Guy (@AdelaideRamPage) February 28, 2023
Devastating, pretty much the whole season then. Would this open up a possible top 30 spot? Wishing Luke the best
— Reidy (@ReeceKevin2) February 28, 2023
Phil Gould praises new signing Viliame Kikau
Last week, Gould praised Viliame Kikau's presence at the club during the pre-season and said 19-year-old centre Paul Alamoti, a local junior with huge wraps on him, will benefit from the premiership winner's guidance. Gould has a deep understanding of 27-year-old Kikau from his days as Penrith general manager.
It is what the Fijian international has done, and will continue to do, for the players around him that enthuses Gould.
"Connectivity between players is very important and you just have to look at Viliame Kikau and his time at Panthers playing in that left (second-row) position," Gould told AAP at Channel Nine's Wide World of Sports NRL launch in Brisbane.
"He started with Waqa Blake. Then he went to Stephen Crichton. Then he went to Matt Burton. Then he went to Izack Tago.
"He has virtually nurtured four great young centres that have played outside him, so we have put Paul Alamoti outside him this year who will debut in round one against Manly. Viliame has taken him on as a project. Paul will be absolutely stoked to be playing outside him."
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