Bargain Tiger Corey Thompson was happy to be ‘water boy’, just so chance to play in NRL again
CHRISTIAN NICOLUSSI, The Daily Telegraph
March 28, 2018 6:11pm
WESTS Tigers bargain buy fullback Corey Thompson knows former No. 1 James Tedesco is now earning a whopping 10 times the amount of cash he is on.
“But the way I look at it, I’m earning more than some of my mates who went to uni for five years,’’ Thompson told The Daily Telegraph.
“I don’t look at it like, ‘he’s on a million and I’m on nothing’.
“I’m getting paid good money to do what I love. I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to more money, and I’m working on it, training hard, I want to extend my stay at the Tigers and try to boost that (value) a bit.
“Hopefully what I do on the field will reward me off it.’’
Tedesco was lured east to the Sydney Roosters on a whopping $4 million four-year deal while Thompson bailed on the Super League to accept a minimum wage $95,000 one-year deal.
He will wear the No. 1 jersey again on Monday against Parramatta.
The Tigers have quickly commenced talks about keeping the little livewire at the club beyond 2018.
After playing in the NRL on the wing for Canterbury before leaving for England, Thompson became homesick, and knew he could measure up again in the world’s premier rugby league competition.
“So I told my manager to get me something, even being a ‘water boy’, just so I could get back into the system,’’ Thompson said.
“About a week later he said the Tigers had something, and I said, ‘I’ll take it’.
“I came back with no expectations, I had a good pre-season and it all worked out.
“The first thing (coach) Ivan Cleary said to me was he liked the way I played, was happy to have me on board, and that just gave me the confidence to play the way I know how.’’
Tui Lolohea impressed at fullback in the opening round for the Tigers and looked ready to fill the giant shoes at the back left by genuine superstar Tedesco.
Thompson played on the wing, earning selection ahead of club favourite David Nofoaluma, and scored a brilliant late try to help set up the shock win over the Roosters.
The 27-year-old moved to fullback in rounds two and three after a knee injury to Lolohea, and since made it impossible to flick him from the all-important position.
Standing just 178cm, Thompson’s kamikaze-like kick returns have been a joy to watch.
“I grew up not being the biggest fella, and I rely on my footwork late at the line to miss a lot of the contact,’’ Thompson said.
“I love running it straight back at them. Hopefully our big boys like it, too.’’
Thompson has settled into a modest home at Campbelltown with his partner and their two dogs.
He enjoyed learning from Billy Slater while in the Melbourne Storm system, as well as Brett Hodgson when he was an assistant at Widnes, in the Super League, before returning home to join the Tigers coaching staff.