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Kiwi roots: Thompson on incredible journey to the game

They say every journey starts with a single step.

For nib Newcastle Knights forward Leo Thompson, his journey to rugby league is an incredible story.

Having started with a different ball in hand as a young kid, Thompson played rugby union throughout his juniors before a chance encounter kickstarted a new chapter.

On the KNIGHTS // HQ Podcast, Leo shared his journey to Newcastle's shores, representing his culture in the Māori All Stars game in February and the 2023 season so far. Listen on Apple or Spotify.

"I moved out of home and moved down to Wellington in the Hurricanes (Super Rugby) system," Thompson said on the KNIGHTS // HQ Podcast.

"And then I was playing local footy with Charlie Gubb (former NRL player) and I was telling him how much I wanted to test out league.

"He went and contacted the (Canberra) Raiders to watch a couple of my games, and the week after I played in a one off union match between the Maori Under 20's against the Fiji Under 20's.

"The Raiders' Peter Mulholland, who was the recruitment manager at the time, he watched that game and contacted me a week after."

Leo played a couple of games for the Raiders lower grades before the game was shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The forward moved into a sharehouse with former teammates working on a demolition site while waiting for his next opportunity.

That opportunity came late in 2021 when the red and blue came calling.

"I started talking to the Knights when everyone went into to the bubble up on the Sunshine Coast, and I stayed back and was still working on the demolition (site)," Thompson said.

"But once I got here, it was the best decision I could of made.

"Love the place, love the lifestyle."

The boys kicked off with some quickfire questions to get to know our prop forward a little better including his junior club and what is his proudest off-field achievement.

Having yet to miss a game so far in 2023, Thompson discusses the season while previewing this weekend's huge clash against the Brisbane Broncos.

Leo is also a twin to brother Tyrone, who plays in the Super Rugby competition with the Chiefs as the boys talked about growing up in New Zealand and his proud Māori culture.

We round out the episode with some fan questions sent in via our Instagram story.