St George Illawarra Dragons release Joel Thompson to join Manly Sea Eagles

Manly bound: Joel Thompson has left St George Illawarra after four seasons to join the Sea Eagles. Picture: AAP
Manly bound: Joel Thompson has left St George Illawarra after four seasons to join the Sea Eagles. Picture: AAP

Joel Thompson won’t be wearing the red V in 2018, with the back-rower securing a release from St George Illawarra to join Manly.

The Dragons announced on Friday morning they had agreed to release Thompson from the final year of his contract. Manly confirmed they had signed Thompson on a two-year deal shortly after.

Thompson is the third big name Dragons player from their 2017 squad who will be in new colours next season after Josh Dugan and Russell Packer joined Cronulla and the Wests Tigers respectively.

The Dragons said Thompson and his management had requested the release to secure longer-term security for his family. The club are happy with their depth in the forwards with Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims, Luciano Leilua and Jacob Host competing for spots in the back row and are likely to replace Thompson in the squad with an outside back.

The 29-year-old played 85 NRL games for the Dragons over four seasons.

"It's an emotional day leaving this great club. But with three girls and a young family I had to make that decision [to request a release]," Thompson said.

"It's going to be really tough leaving the staff, the players and the fans. Everyone has been unbelievable to me and I can't thank them enough.

"I've not only grown as a footballer but as a person at the Dragons. Everyone has helped me so much and I couldn't be more grateful and thankful for what they've done for me.

"Thank you to the Red V Members and fans for all the support you've given me over the years. I encourage you to get behind this great team. They have plenty of potential and are going to play some really good football.

"That was another part of my decision, I believe the young guys coming through now will step up, make that role their own and take this club to where it deserves to be."

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