Thompson looks fit for Bulldogs NRL debut

Scott Bailey

Canterbury teammates believe Luke Thompson has already shown he is fit enough to emerge from more than three months of lockdown and face South Sydney on Sunday night.

Thompson only arrived at Belmore on Tuesday after spending two weeks in quarantine in Melbourne, but has been named on the Bulldogs' extended bench.

The prop has not played a game since March 15, when the English Super League was stopped due to coronavirus.

Coach Dean Pay has indicated he will leave the final call with Thompson, and whether the English international feels he is ready to run out at Bankwest Stadium.

But Bulldogs teammates say he looks like a man preparing to play the Rabbitohs.

"I think he wants to play this weekend," fellow prop Aiden Tolman said.

"Most of us want him to play. Sometimes it just depends on what our high performance team come up with and if he's ready.

"I don't know personally how much training he has done.

"If he feels like he is ready to play and feels like he is physically ready, I'm sure he will get the chance this weekend."

Tolman and Thompson could have compared notes for the past fortnight, with Tolman locked at home following a COVID-19 scare and Thompson training in his Melbourne hotel.

Given a two-bedroom room, Thompson was sent an exercise bike, weights and meal plan by the club to have him ready for an eventual NRL debut.

It came after three months stuck around his home in the north of England, lifting weights and running in a field nearby to keep fit.

Renowned for having a big engine, Thompson is aged just 25 but is into his eighth first-grade season.

He was handed his Super League debut by Nathan Brown on his 18th birthday in 2013 and won a premiership at St Helens as an agile second-rower the following year.

"He has kept himself fit, and is a naturally fit player anyway," Tolman said.

"He's not a huge body. He has kept himself in good shape.

"I'm sure he would have been doing some training over there before the two weeks here.

"He trained really well today and is still learning our structures and plays and learning the combinations.

"Whether that's this week, I'm not too sure or the week after. But when he does he will be a great asset to our team."