Thompson goes from hunter to hunted
Joel Thompson in action for the Indigenous All Stars. Photo: Bradley Kanaris
Raiders forward Joel Thompson has described the ban on shoulder charges as ''weird'' after a near escape in his first game under the controversial rule.
Thompson's natural instincts were to belt opponent Robbie Farah with a thuddering shot in the latter stages of last weekend's NRL All Star's game at Suncorp Stadium.
However, the Canberra hitman and the Indigenous All Stars representative was the one who came out sore the other end when he stopped himself at the last minute.
''I went to go in and hit Robbie Farah towards the end of the game, and I just remembered quickly to pull out,'' Thompson said. ''As I pulled out, I actually got myself winded, because I've stopped and he's kept on going. I felt that one.''
With a forward pack bristling with big hitters, such as Thompson, Josh Papalii and new signing Joel Edwards, the Raiders stand to be one of the clubs most heavily affected by the new rule.
''It's going to take a while to get used to, it's kind of weird,'' Thompson said.
''It should be right by round one after clubs have a few more trial games and opposed training sessions.''
Thompson carried an injured shoulder into the game but got through a mountain of work to finish with more than 30 tackles as the Indigenous All Stars recorded an easy 32-6 victory in front of more than 40,000 fans.
He said the Raiders had their concerns about him playing, but that it was his decision to take the field.
Thompson is desperate for the annual celebration of indigenous culture to remain, despite it being under threat by a proposed nines tournament in Auckland.
The 24-year-old has featured in every edition of the All Stars game since it began in 2010, and was one of six Raiders involved this time, the largest contingent from any club.
''It's the best concept with all the community engagement we do,'' he said.
''I want it to stay. To see the smiles on the kids' faces, they get right behind it … it's a special event for the indigenous community.''