English import Luke Thompson wants to taste premiership success at the Bulldogs and his fiery debut against the Broncos suggests he will fit right in with the "Dogs of War" traditions at the proud club.
The 25-year-old Test forward took on Tevita Pangai jnr in an old-fashioned nose-to-nose confrontation in Canterbury’s 26-8 loss at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The duel started when the visiting lock ran straight over Pangai early and escalated when he was put on report for a shoulder charge on the Tongan international but was subsequently cleared by the match review committee.
A war of words erupted between the duo as half-time approached.
"I have watched him before. He is a good player and that is the way he likes to play the game,” Thompson said.
"He likes to get under your skin and carry on. He wound me up so I gave him a little clip but there was nothing in it. I like them battles in the middle."
Thompson won two Super League titles in 2014 and 2019 with St Helens and had a win rate of 70% in his 158 games for the Saints.
Thompson on report for shoulder charge
While Thompson wants to emulate English forwards who have been a success in the NRL such as Adrian Morley and Sam Burgess, he also wants to be part of a Bulldogs team that wins titles like great forwards of the past such as Peter Kelly, Sonny Bill Williams and coach Dean Pay himself.
"I heard a lot about the history at the club and how they had a lot of success in the past," he said.
"They are a real big club in Sydney and a club that demands success. I want to be part of that.
"To be honest, I always followed the Bulldogs as a kid.
"When I spoke to people at the club like [chairwoman] Lynne Anderson and [CEO] Andrew Hill I liked what they were saying about having a young squad and building.
"I felt like I wanted to be a part of that. I got a good feeling from everyone at the club. Since I have been here I can’t thank everyone enough."
Following in the footsteps of countrymen who have blazed the trail is high on Thompson's agenda.
"I am really proud of where I come from," he said.
"Morley and Burgess, I have been massive fans of them and always followed those sort of guys.
"They have made a real impact over here and done really well. If I can be anywhere near as good as they were then I won’t be too far off."
Thompson made 86 metres from nine tough carries and 36 tackles in his 60-minute stint in his Telstra Premiership debut.
Match Highlights: Broncos v Bulldogs
"It was a real honour to be out there and put the Bulldog shirt on … but to dish up what we dished up was really disappointing," Thompson said.
"I felt better than what I thought I would. I thought I’d be sucking in the big 'uns. I still was, but I felt alright engine wise."
Pay said Thompson's debut was the highlight of an otherwise poor night.
"You can see what sort of player he is going to be once he gets a few games under his belt. He bounced into it with not a lot of training but I thought he was a real shining light," Pay said.
"He is a real tenacious, hard-working, tough kid.
"British forwards do really well over here. They are really tough and take everyone on. I can’t see him being anything different."
Thompson, who clearly has a wry sense of humour, has had an eventful time since arriving from the United Kingdom in Australia.
He spent a fortnight in quarantine in Melbourne before driving up to Sydney via Goulburn where he was encouraged to stop off at The Big Sheep.
"The sentiment on the way up was that there was a sheep that’s got balls as big as yours so you’ve got to see it,” he grinned.