Thompson signs for Sea Eagles

23 December 2017 22:44:14 GMTPlus11

Manly have bolstered their pack by signing Joel Thompson on a two-year deal.

Thompson was snapped up after being granted a release from the final year of his contract with the Dragons.

The Sea Eagles are facing the possibility of having to start the new season with a restricted salary cap, but they've still been able to pick up the versatile second-rower.

St George Illawarra wanted to keep Thompson, but he wanted the extra security of the longer-term deal.

He's been a target for Manly since September, but negotiations had stalled while the club pursued Matt Moylan and Mitchell Pearce.

Coach Trent Barrett said he'd admired Thompson for a long time, and had coached him in the NSW Country team two years ago.

"Not only is Joel a terrific bloke and a terrific leader but he is extremely competitive and very tough. He is a professional," said Barrett.

"Joel has played plenty of first grade and his experience is something I thought our squad needed. 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."

The 29-year-old started his NRL career with Canberra Raiders in 2008 and grabbed 28 tries in his 89 appearances for them before moving to St George Illawarra in 2014.

He's played four times for the Indigenous All Stars and represented Country Origin twice.

Sea Eagles CEO Lyall Gorman said of him: "Joel brings a strong passion and commitment through not just his on-field performances but also his off-field contribution in the community."

Manly are 21.00 to win the 2018 Grand Final. The Sea Eagles are 1.90 to finish in the top eight.

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