The Manly Sea Eagles have announced the signing of Joel Thompson, who has been granted a release from his final year on contract at the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Despite the potential of having to start the 2018 season with a restricted salary cap, the Sea Eagles have moved to bolster their pack by adding the versatile second-rower to the roster on a two-year deal.
It is understood the Dragons were happy to keep him, however the opportunity of a longer deal with the Sea Eagles was too appealing to resist.
Thompson’s move to the Sea Eagles was first mooted in September, however negotiations stalled during Manly’s pursuit of Matt Moylan and Mitchell Pearce as well as the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future in relation to the NRL’s salary cap investigation.
NRL.com understands the club is able to continue to sign players as normal until the investigation surrounding Manly's salary cap is resolved. If they are forced to start 2018 with a restricted salary cap and are over the threshold, they will possibly have to release players to become compliant.
The club has been granted an extension until January to mount its appeal against the breach notice.
Manly coach Trent Barrett was thrilled to have Thompson on board.
“Joel is a player I have admired for a long time. I coached him in the Country team a couple of years ago,’’ Barrett said.
“Not only is Joel a terrific bloke and a terrific leader but he is extremely competitive and very tough. He is a professional.
“Joel has played plenty of first grade and his experience is something I thought our squad needed. Not only will the team benefit from it but also a lot of our young individuals will benefit too from having someone like Joel around.”
Sea Eagles CEO Lyall Gorman said Thompson would be a solid contributor on and off the field.
“Joel brings a strong passion and commitment through not just his on-field performances but also his off-field contribution in the community,” he said.
“His dedication to adding value across the community is an area to which our club is genuinely committed and one for which Joel was recently recognised through being the well-deserved recipient of the NRL Ken Stephen Medal for community service.”