A new NRL club has entered the race for out-of-contract prop forward Luke Thompson, according to reports in Australia.
The reports claim that the NRL’s bottom side have shifted their recruitment attention for 2024 from the halves to the forwards, with Thompson a target high on the club’s list to bolster their pack options for next season.
Thompson, 28, is yet to feature for the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2023 after suffering a nasty foot injury during pre-season.
He recently made his return from the long-term injury to feature for the side’s reserves, playing 32 minutes off the bench. Thompson has been named on the interchange bench for the Round 24 clash against Newcastle Knights.
Wigan Warriors set to lose out on reported target Luke Thompson
Wigan Warriors were said to be keen on the former St Helens forward, previously reported by renowned Australian journalist ‘The Mole’ back in April.
Head coach Matt Peet confirmed his admiration for the player, although rubbished reports that the DW Stadium outfit had offered a lucrative four-year deal including big money.
Thompson’s current contract is worth $800,000 a season, around £430,000.
Several clubs have since shown interest in the international forward, who represented England on home soil at last year’s delayed World Cup under Shaun Wane.
Thompson’s NRL career has so far been hit with numerous injuries, limiting him to just 39 appearances since his move for the 2020 campaign from the Saints.
However, that hasn’t stopped clubs showing interest in the out-of-contract forward, who looks likely to enter the open market and test his worth for 2024.
Wests Tigers are the latest club to enter the race, while St George Illawarra Dragons are also reportedly keen on the forward.
Shane Flanagan, who will take charge ahead of the 2024 campaign, is looking to revamp his squad with several players set to leave the Red V outfit.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Flanagan held a ‘secret meeting’ with the current Canterbury Bulldogs man.
Leigh’s Edwin Ipape has been another reported interest for Flanagan, who was a part of Papua New Guinea’s coaching staff at last year’s World Cup campaign.
Wigan have salary cap space for 2024 and look to bolster their forward pack, with Kai Pearce-Paul set to join Newcastle Knights next season.
John Bateman also left the club on the eve of the current season’s kick-off for Wests Tigers, while the likes of Patrick Mago and Willie Isa remain without contracts beyond the current campaign.
Mike Cooper is also expected to miss the start of 2024, if re-signed by the club, having suffered an ACL injury on Good Friday against St Helens.