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By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 15/07/20 11:57am
Luke Thompson has revealed what was behind the verbal sparring between him and Brisbane Broncos enforced Tevita Pangai Jr on his Canterbury Bulldogs debut.
The England international forward wasted little time in making an impact for his new club in the NRL Round 9 clash at Suncorp Stadium last Saturday, tangling with the Tongan during the first half of the match.
The mutual respect between the duo was clear at full time as they shook hands, although Thompson told the Golden Point Vodcast he was not prepared to shy away from confrontation in his first outing for his new club.
“We threw a forward pass and he [Pangai] was getting into me a little bit, saying: ‘You’re not in Super League now, mate’ and trying to wind me up,” Thompson told Sky Sports.
“I don’t take any rubbish from anyone, so I said: ‘What are you going to do about it?’ – and the next carry he came straight at me, so I tried to get him back a little bit.
“It’s part of the position playing in the front row, part of your job is to get your team on the front foot, and part of that job is to run at blokes as hard as you can and get on top of the opposition.
“It’s quite a confrontational game and these battles occur in the middle and things get a bit heated, but it’s all good fun and part of the game – it’s why we love the game as well.”
It’s quite a confrontational game and these battles occur in the middle and things get a bit heated, but it’s all good fun and part of the game.
The former St Helens player carried for 88 metres and made 34 tackles on his NRL bow but could not help the Bulldogs avoid a 26-8 defeat to the Broncos – a result which cost head coach Dean Pay his job.
On top of that, the news came through on Tuesday all clubs outside of Queensland would have to return to the NRL’s original biosecurity protocols following a spike in cases of coronavirus.
That means Thompson and his team-mates are effectively limited to leaving home only to train, play matches and go to the supermarket, which follows on from the 25-year-old having to spend two weeks quarantined in a Melbourne hotel following his arrival in Australia.
However, he was able to keep in shape despite not being able to leave his room thanks to the gym equipment provided by the Bulldogs, and was pleased to see that and the work he had done at home on these shores yield results.
“I was confident going into the game because of all the hard work I’d put in during lockdown back in England,” Thompson said.
“I only had the two weeks in quarantine where I couldn’t run or walk, but I soon picked it back up when I got in with the lads. I was quite impressed with my fitness and it’s a testament to my training.
“Obviously the quarantine was a bit different; it’s something I’d never done before and something I don’t want to do again. I was on my own in a hotel for two weeks, there were no windows to open either, so that was pretty tough breathing in the same air for two weeks.
“But apart from that, I got myself into a routine with my training, my food came at the same time every day so I was up at the same time every day and it went pretty quickly, to be honest.”
St George-Illawarra Dragons vs Canterbury Bulldogs
July 18, 2020, 5:55am
The Bulldogs, now with assistant coach Steve Georgallis in charge on an interim basis, aim to put things right against St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday in a match which is live on Sky Sports Arena from 6am.
It is fair to say Thompson can be expected to be in the thick of the action once again, but which of the Dragons forwards does he have his eye on?
“All of them!” Thompson joked, adding: “I don’t really go out there to target blokes.
“If someone is winding me up or giving me a bit of grief then I don’t take any rubbish from anyone.
“If anyone fancies a battle next week, I’m up for that. But it doesn’t matter who is put in front of me because I go out there and just do my job.”