NEW Saints signing Joel Thompson is "a player who ticks all the boxes" as coach Kristian Woolf spelled out the reasons for bringing over the 32-year-old NRL packman.

Toughness, experience, a capacity to play 80-minutes each week and strong leadership skills on and off the field are the key attributes that made Thompson a ready made replacement for the departing Zeb Taia.

With 13 years at the highest level in the NRL playing at Canberra Raiders, St George Illawarra and latterly Manly Sea Eagles, the second rower brings a wealth of experience.

That will be invaluable slotting in alongside young back row of James Bentley and Morgan Knowles.

St Helens Star:

Woolf explained: "Once we knew that Zeb was going to move on at the end of the year we needed a couple of things in a player.

"We knew that we needed an experienced bloke who favoured the left edge.

"Zeb has been a great player and competitor for us for such a long time that we wanted someone in a similar mould.

"Someone who can play 80 minutes every week and really hold his hands up defensively and offer us a little bit of ball play and offer us a bit of experience and leadership.

"That is what we see in Joel.

"And over a long career he has been a really good player and competitor in the NRL – he has been a bloke that plays every game and 80 minutes every week."

Manly agreed to release Thompson from the final year of his contract to come to England.

Off the field he has been heavily involved in player welfare issues and was elected a RLPA director in 2018, and has a had a strong focus on Sate of Mind. He founded the Mindset Project.

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Woolf added: "He has shown, with the teams he has represented that he is really going to add to us off the field as well.


"We always want blokes who add to us on the footy field first but they need to add to us off it as well as people.

"Before we bring anyone in we do our due diligence to make sure that is the case and he certainly ticks all boxes."