In a move that has left St George Illawarra Dragons fans bitter, their previous fan favourite back-rower Joel Thompson will head to Manly next season, after signing a 2-year deal.
With 174 NRL games to his name so far for both the Canberra Raiders and the Dragons, his signing is one that has been very welcomed by the Manly faithful.
“Joel is a player I have admired for a long time. I coached him in the Country team a couple of years ago,’’ Barrett said.
“Not only is Joel a terrific bloke and a terrific leader but he is extremely competitive and very tough. He is a professional.”
HIs first-grade experience is a timely boost for the Manly pack as they look to strengthen their squad for 2018.
“Joel has played plenty of first-grade and his experience is something I thought our squad needed,” continued Barrett.
Not only will the team benefit from it but also a lot of our young individuals will benefit too from having someone like Joel around.”
With Thompson revered for his on-field professionalism and off-field heart, the Manly club is pleased to have him on board.
“Joel brings a strong passion and commitment through not just his on-field performances but also his off-field contribution to the community,” Manly Sea Eagles CEO Lyall Gorman said.
“His dedication to adding value across the community is an area to which our Club is genuinely committed and one for which Joel was recently recognised through being the well-served recipient of the NRL Ken Stephen Medal for Community Service.”
In the end, although Thompson admits that it was a tough decision to leave, he had to do what was best for his family.
“It’s an emotional day leaving this great club but with three girls and a young family, I had to make that decision [to request a release],” Thompson said.
“It’s going to be really tough leaving the staff, the players and the fans.
Everyone has been unbelievable to me and I can’t thank them enough.”
Although he is leaving, Thompson praised the Dragons club, community and fans for the way they treated him and respected him.
“I’ve not only grown as a footballer but as a person at the Dragons,” he continued.
“Everyone has helped me so much and I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for what they’ve done for me.
“Thank you to the Red V Members and fans for all the support you’ve given me over the years.”
In the end, with the Dragons having plentiful depth within their tea, Thompson leaves knowing that young crop of players are ready to play.
I encourage you to get behind this great team. They have plenty of potential and are going to play some really good football.