Exclusive: Luke Thompson lifts lid on Wigan Warriors move, time in NRL, St Helens ‘banter’

John Davidson
Luke Thompson, Wigan Warriors

Luke Thompson has penned a four-year deal with Wigan Warriors from 2024 - Alamy

New Wigan Warriors signing Luke Thompson says he has no regrets about his time in Australia, but is keen to get back to “winning” after several struggling years at the Bulldogs. 

Thompson left St Helens midway through 2020 to join Canterbury Down Under – but the Dogs have not finished higher than 12th in the past four seasons, claiming the wooden spoon in 2021, and cycled through five different head coaches. 

The prop has returned home to the UK and elected to join the reigning Super League champions Wigan on a four-year deal. 

“It’s a great time to be joining Wigan,” Thompson told Love Rugby League. 

“They’ve got some great young kids coming through. I wanted to get back to winning, I haven’t had that too much at the Bulldogs. It’s a great opportunity for me. 

“I was out most of the year with a foot injury. I had one or two options in the NRL, then Wigan offered a four-year deal. I wanted to wait until I was back playing. 

“I weighed up all my options and this was the best one for me. I’m from Wigan, my house is in Wigan, I went to school in Wigan. 

“It’s been awesome (here so far at the Warriors). We started pre-season last Monday. It’s been good so far, there’s a really good vibe around the place.” 

Luke Thompson fully fit and raring to go

The front-rower has battled foot and concussion injuries over the past 18 months but insists he is back to full fitness. 

“I had a bit of bad luck,” Thompson said. “I did my foot right before round one this year, a week before we played Manly. That was devastating. 

“Then in 2022 I missed eight games with a concussion. But I’m fully recovered now.” 

Life Down Under: ‘I wouldn’t change it for the world’

Despite the Bulldogs struggles on the field and his own injury concerns, Thompson loved his time in Australia. 

“It was pretty full on, but I really enjoyed it,” he said. 

“Me and my missus loved living in Australia. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I just wish we could have had done better at the Bulldogs. 

“We had a lot of change in coaches and players. It makes it hard. But I wish them all the best. 

“I don’t know (about next season), it will be interesting to see how they do. It might be a tough year for them.” 

From the Red V of St Helens to the Cherry and White hoops of Wigan

Thompson was born in Higher End but made his name at St Helens after joining their academy as an 11-year-old. 

The forward made more than 160 appearances for Saints from 2013 to 2020, winning two Grand Finals with the club. 

He says he had no concerns about joining their bitter rivals after making his name with the Red V. 

“My parents are from St Helens but I grew up in Wigan,” Thompson explains. 

“I’ve had a bit of banter from my missus’ family, they’re all St Helens fans. I said I’d buy them all Wigan jerseys for Christmas. (But) I’m professional, I just love my job. 

“Maybe, there might be a couple of boos (when I play at the Totally Wicked Stadium) but that doesn’t worry me.” 

‘I’ll be trying my hardest to get back into the England set-up’

Luke Thompson and John Bateman England World Cup - Alamy England prop Luke Thompson (left) celebrates a try with John Bateman (right) at the 2021 World Cup – Alamy

Thompson was part of the England squad at last year’s World Cup and has represented Great Britain. 

He was left out of the recent series against Tonga, but admits he was not surprised to be omitted. 

“I only played the last four games of the NRL season, my foot was still healing,” the prop said. 

“I spoke to Shaun Wane and he wanted to give me time to recover and wanted to give some other players a chance. 

“I didn’t expect to be picked at all. There was Robbie Mulhern and some other good, young props who had great seasons. 

“Next year I’ll be trying my hardest to get back into the England set-up. I love playing for England.”

READ NEXT: Every British-born player to have graced the NRL since inaugural 1998 season