He’s been described by some commentators as “the best prop in the world” but Peter Sterling says Luke Thompson should not be expected to turn the Bulldogs around on his own.
Languishing in dead last on the ladder, Canterbury are some chance of giving the English star his debut this weekend, but even if they do, Sterling doubts he is the type of player to immediately change the struggling club’s fortunes.
Thompson has completed his 14-day quarantine in Australia since arriving from St Helens.
He was named in the 22-man squad ahead of Sunday’s South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday, however he’s no guarantee to make the final cut. Bulldogs coach Dean Pay has indicated that he wants to give the 25-year-old plenty of time to regain his fitness in training before he makes his debut.
The Bulldogs will be boosted by the addition when Thompson does run out in the blue and white, with former NRL star Sam Burgess and Pay singing his praises.
However, despite Thompson’s established reputation, Sterling is wary of putting too much expectation on him.
“I’m not sure if he’ll make his debut for the Bulldogs this weekend but I hope the expectations about him coming into the NRL are reasonable ones,” he said on Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.
“Sam Burgess speaks about him in glowing terms, but he’s a quality forward, an honest forward, but he’s not going to come and transform the Bulldogs just by his very presence.
“He’ll work hard, he’s got some quality, got good footwork, can use the footy as well, but he’s not a Sam Burgess.
“He’s Luke Thompson, who can come and do a job for the Canterbury side but he’s not going to turn their season around. He’s just going to be a very valuable addition to them. I hope the expectations are kept reasonable.”
The Bulldogs have clearly identified the pack as an area they need significant improvement, with Pay and the football staff at the club making big name forwards their first priority as they emerge from a three-year period of fighting with one hand tied behind their back thanks to an awful salary cap mess.
Thompson is the first player to arrive as part of that recruitment drive, with the Bulldogs also a leading contender for the signature of his England teammate John Bateman, who was yesterday granted a release from the Raiders, effective from the end of this season.