Thompson impresses on Canterbury NRL debut

Luke Thompson impressed on his debut for Canterbury despite being placed on report.
Luke Thompson impressed on his debut for Canterbury despite being placed on report.

English hard-man Luke Thompson has escaped sanction for a shoulder charge in an NRL debut that was worth the wait for cellar-dwellers Canterbury.

In fact, the ex-St Helens premiership winner's shuddering hit on Brisbane enforcer Tevita Pangai only seemed to endear himself more to Bulldogs coach Dean Pay.

The NRL's match review committee on Sunday morning found nothing wrong with the shot.

Teammate Reimis Smith was not as lucky, pinged for grade one dangerous contact with Alex Glenn that could rub him out for a week.

Thompson, 25, lived up to the hype when he finally ran out for the Bulldogs in Saturday's 26-8 loss to the Broncos, after an unconventional lead-up.

He was in quarantine for two weeks after his arrival in Australia before driving up from Melbourne to his new Sydney-based NRL club.

Yet Thompson showed no signs of rust, steamrolling Pangai in his first run of the night before cutting down Broncos monolith Payne Haas in defence in the opening stanza.

It sparked some niggle between Thompson and Pangai that threatened to reach boiling point when the Englishman pulled off a brutal 37th minute shot on the Broncos youngs gun.

"I've watched him (Pangai) before. He likes to get under your skin a bit and carry on," Thompson said.

"He wound me up a bit there, so I gave him a little clip; there was nothing in it, really.

"I like those battles in the middle."

Former Dogs forward Pay clearly liked what he saw, describing the Briton as their "shining light".

Thompson hoped to follow in the footsteps of other UK bruisers Sam Burgess, James Graham and Adrian Morley who stamped their authority in the NRL.

"It was a real honour to be out there, putting the Bulldogs shirt on; I always followed the Bulldogs as a kid," Thompson said.

"I felt better than what I thought I would... just a disappointing result."

The affable Thompson was arguably in finer form off the field after his stunning debut.

Quizzed by media about his Instagram post posing next to Goulburn's Big Merino, Thompson quipped: "They (Bulldogs players) said to me on the way up there was a sheep that had balls as big as yours, so I stopped to see it.

"Not quite as big as mine, (but) not far off."

Australian Associated Press