SAINTS' new signing Joel Thompson has spoken of his excitement at joining "a powerhouse of a club" on a two-year deal.

The experienced 32-year-old second row, who has 13 years of NRL experience under his belt, is a direct replacement for Zeb Taia who has already announced his departure at the end of the year.

Manly Sea Eagles granted Thompson a release from the final year of his Manly contract next season to take up the offer to play with the reigning Super League champions.

Thompson said: “I first want to pay thanks to everyone at Manly for all they have done for me and I wish them well in the future.

“To join a powerhouse of a club with the proud history of St Helens is something I am very excited about. I am looking forward to the challenge of earning the respect of my new club and fans.

“It is a great opportunity for my me as well as my wife and two daughters to come over to the other side of the world.

"I remember playing in the World Club Series for the Dragons against Warrington in 2015.

"We beat them and I loved the atmosphere and I thought I want to experience more of that in the Super League and there is no better club to do that at than St Helens.”

READ: What Joel Thompson will bring to Saints>

Thompson has vast experience in the NRL, making his debut in 2008 and going on to play 60 times for the Manly club, bringing his career tally to 234, scoring 62 tries.

St Helens Star:

He made his debut with Canberra in 2008, before stints with the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2014 and now the Sea Eagles having signed back in 2018.

Earlier this year he captained the Indigenous All Stars in his seventh appearance for the side whilst he is also an influential figure off-the-field, a strong advocate for both Indigenous voices and mental health, founding The Mindset project in 2012 and being awarded the Ken Stephen Medal in 2016 for his community work.

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Saints Coach Kristian Woolf said: “Joel is a player I have been familiar with in the NRL for a long time. He has had a strong career at a number of clubs in the NRL and he has shown what a tough competitor he is.

“Joel is a physical defensive player, but has speed and a skill set which will suit the game over here in Super League and he is highly respected.

“His community work as an RLPA Board member is fantastic and all the things we hear and see of him is exactly what we want at the Saints.”

Thompson will join the Club ahead of the start of the 2021 Super League campaign.