Canterbury are hopeful English prop Luke Thompson will be NRL-ready by the end of June after securing a release that starts his three-year Belmore tenure six months early.
The Bulldogs have confirmed Thompson's arrival for the rest of 2020 after securing his release from St Helens with an undisclosed transfer fee.
The 25-year-old was already NRL-bound for 2021 after inking a lucrative three-year deal in February, and will now fly to Australia next week.
Thompson is required to spend two weeks in quarantine before he is able to join the Bulldogs' 50-man NRL bubble, a timeline that will have him available for selection in Dean Pay's side by the end of the month.
"It is fantastic news that Luke will be able to arrive next week and be available to play this season after serving the compulsory isolation period," Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill said.
"To have an international forward, seen by many as one the best front-rowers in the game, arrive early is tremendous news for all of our members and fans and a great boost for our squad for the rest of this season.
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"I must thank St Helens for enabling this to happen and Luke for showing great character in arriving early and being prepared to sit through his isolation phase before joining us.
"We are hopeful that Luke will be out on the field representing the Bulldogs within the next month.”
Under NRL rules, any transfer fee paid for Thompson does not count towards Canterbury's NRL salary cap but instead falls under their $6.17 million football department budget.
St Helens, coached by Tongan mentor Kristian Woolf, were loath to lose Thompson having tabled the largest contract in the club's history to try and keep him.
A club statement said as much, with chairman Eamonn McManus claiming Thompson had refused to take a pay cut for the last six months of his 2020 contract. The pay cut came due to the financial implications of COVID-19.
"St. Helens had been placed in a difficult position as Luke Thompson had opted not to participate in our club-wide squad and staff pay reduction arrangement for the 2020 season, this being necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic and its significant commercial consequences," McManus said.
"It was therefore agreed to be in everyone’s best interests for the transfer to take place now rather than at the end of the season as originally planned."
Canterbury beat several NRL rivals, including the Warriors and Titans, to land Thompson earlier this year, with CEO Hill and chairwoman Lynne Anderson flying to England to secure Thompson's signature in person.