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Thompson Signing Imminent
Posted by southstander on November 08 2005 - 07:27:41

New Boy?

Last weeks intense speculation regarding the imminent signature of St. George Illawara Dragons 'bad boy' Lance Thompson appears to be well founded.

A usually reliable source, has indicated that the Rhinos are on the verge of completing their squad for 2006 through the addition of Thompson and Paul King from Hull FC.

The announcements could be made as early as this week, but the Rhinos may wait until after GB's interest in the tri-nations is over.

Readers of these pages will know a great deal about Paul King, and we've discussed his arrival in a previous story. But what about Lance Thompson, is he really the player that we want at Headingley?

Thompson is a through-and-through St. George man, who once stated that he would 'die for his club'. Born in February 1978 he's reaching his prime as a second rower at the age of twenty-seven. With ten years of top grade rugby, and 201 first grade appearances, Thompson is definitely battle hardened.

At 6'2" and tipping the scales at 16st 3lb, Thompson has the size a bulk of a pretty handy second rower. And with 7 tries in twenty-six 2005 appearances, his strike rate is pretty handy too. His career totals for his 201 first-grade appearances include twenty-four tries and seventeen goals (strike rate of 68%).

The paper record looks pretty tasty, but dig behind the stats, and that is where the story starts to get a little less palatable. Trouble reared it's head in early October when Thompson stormed out of a presentation night after being told that he had no future with the club. He was then critical of the club on TV, alleging that he was being squeezed out and treated poorly. The club struck back on the 2nd November when they put the wheels in motion to dismiss Lance by writing to him and asking him to put forward a case as to why he shouldn't be dismissed for misconduct, following alleged abusive text messages to a team mate ahead of the semi-final against Wests Tigers in September.

The club apparently have the backing of the players to get rid of Thompson, and a survey of CEO's of other clubs reveal that none of the other top flight clubs will have a place for him. It appears that his only possible escape route is to Superleague.

In recent interviews the player seems to have accepted that his St. George career is over, and that he will not be allowed to see out the remaining year of his contract.

Despite a section of the fans campaigning for Thompson to stay, he has a history of disciplinary problems. In the past he has turned up to training drunk on his birthday, and had a fight with an ex-team mate in the St. George Club Foyer.

If, and when, Lance signs for the Rhinos he will bring a fair bit of baggage with him. But to me he looks like a solid second rower, indicating that Peacock will be committed as a Rhinos prop forward next year. He has spirit, committment and character along with a decent playing record, and I think that he'd be a decent signing.

Watch this space.

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