nib Newcastle Knights forward Leo Thompson has signed an extension to remain with the Club until at least the end of the 2025 National Rugby League season.
Thompson has been a standout performer for the Knights in 2022, starting pre-season on a development contract before earning an upgrade to a top 30 squad position in early March.
Just 10 days later he made his NRL debut in the Knights Round 1 victory over the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and has since gone on to feature in 16 matches in red and blue.
It has been a meteoric rise for the 22-year-old rugby union convert, who grew up playing Rugby in Muriwai, Gisborne, in the north-eastern corner of New Zealand’s North Island.
He was a schoolboy star for Napier Boys High School before joining the Canberra Raiders Jersey Flegg side in 2020, only for COVID interruptions to limit his rugby league experience to less than a dozen games.
Since joining the Knights, the talented ball playing back-rower has impressed in both defence and attack, adding ball skills, footwork and toughness to the Knights forward pack.
Head Coach Adam O’Brien believes Thompson has a great blend of skill, athleticism and aggression.
“Leo has been a great find for the club,” O’Brien said.
“His contribution in his debut season has been enormous, especially considering his inexperience in rugby league, let alone the number of games and the quality of his performances at NRL level.
“He has earned the respect of the playing group with his drive, determination, and willingness to get the job done for his teammates.
“I believe we have only scratched the surface, we don’t know what his ceiling might be, what I do know is his best football is still in front of him and that is very exciting.”
Thompson’s family is of Māori descent, with strong football bloodlines.
His identical twin brother Tyrone is carving a name for himself in rugby union, making his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in March and being a member of the Māori All Blacks team that beat Ireland in June.