England hooker Thompson confirms Leeds move

England World Cup winning hooker Steve Thompson has agreed a two year contract to return to the Guinness Premiership and join Leeds Carnegie from French club Brive.


Thompson, who yesterday played for England against the Barbarians at Twickenham, agreed the deal over the weekend and will move to Yorkshire when he returns from England’s tour to Australia and New Zealand.


Commenting on the deal Thompson, 31, said, “I am really pleased to be joining Leeds Carnegie at an exciting time for the club. I spoke with Andy Key and Neil Back and have nothing but admiration for what they have done at the club already and what they plan to do in the future.


“It was a big decision for me to come back to the Guinness Premiership but it is a challenge I am looking forward to. In all honesty, I have got more nerves about coming back to the Guinness Premiership than I did about coming to France and I think that is a good thing.


” I am looking for a fresh challenge in my career and Leeds Carnegie is exactly right for me,” added Thompson.


Thompson admitted that he is already doing his homework on his new team mates. He added, “I am fortunate that Hendre Fourie is part of the England squad. I have been picking his brains about how the club operates and talking about the guys. I have been watching some videos and I just want to make sure I am up to speed when I report for pre-season training.”


Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Neil Back was a team mate of Thompson’s when the pair helped England win the World Cup back in 2003 in Australia. Commenting on the new signing Back said, “As a club, we are delighted to have signed a player of the calibre of Steve Thompson.


“He is a world class player who is still performing at the top of his game and he sees the move to Leeds Carnegie as a chance to improve even further.


“Importantly, Steve also has all the right characteristics to be part of our squad. We are building a strong pack here at Leeds Carnegie and Steve will be a great addition to that. We already have Andy Titterrell and Phil Nilsen at the club and the competition for the hooking spot highlights the strength in depth we are now building within the squad,” added Back.


Leeds Carnegie will only be Thompson’s third club of his career. He left Northampton Saints, the club he represented for ten seasons and had captained, to pursue a coaching role with Brive in 2007 but took further medical advice, and was cleared to play for the French club and returned to action later in 2007.

 

He made 125 Premiership appearances for the Saints and currently has 55 caps for England.

His selection in the England squad for last summer’s matches against Argentina bridged a gap of 38 months since he won his 47th cap against Ireland. Steve’s international comeback off the bench for Dylan Hartley was in the 37-15 win over the Pumas at Old Trafford and he won his 50th cap against Argentina last November.


“An uncompromising forward, he prefaced World Cup success with an eye-catching tour of New Zealand and Australia the summer of 2003 and represented the 2005 Lions against Argentina and in New Zealand.

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