Ray Thompson: I’m A Hooker Now

North Queensland - Ray ThompsonBy STEVE MASCORD
NORTH Queensland star Ray Thompson is resigned to being a hooker for the rest of his career.
After a spluttering opening two-thirds of the season, the Cowboys have not lost a game since coach Neil Henry’s sacking and will move a step closer to an unlikely finals appearance with a win over Newcastle at 1300smiles Stadium on Saturday.
Senior players say a key reason for the resurgence is the return of Matt Bowen at fullback along with the seven and nine jerseys being settled, with Robert Lui in the former and ex-halfback Thompson in the latter.
“I thought it might happen, that I’d go to hooker – especially with the boys we’ve got here,” said Thompson, 23.
“…Robby Lui, Mick Morgan, obviously Johnno (Johnathan Thurston) has sealed one spot. We’ve got some good young halves coming through the ranks as well.
“I think (hooker) played in my favour as well, to stay in first grade. Hopefully I can do a job and stay there for the rest of my career.”
The Cowboys lost two rakes last off-season when Aaron Payne retired and James Segeyaro joined Penrith – a factor overlooked by tipsters who reckoned they would be serious premiership contenders.
“And the hookers we did have, were coming off injuries,” Thompson adds.
“Coming into the start of the year, I didn’t really have an off-season with the injuries I had and then I wasn’t sure if I was a halfback, a hooker or a back-up to both.
“But I’m starting to find my feet at hooker. I’ve definitely got some work to do but I’d like to make a home there
“My job’s simple.”
Thompson said “the shackles are off” since Henry was told he would not be required next year – but like most of his team-mates, can’t explain why.
“Everyone is just playing footy,” he said. “Our structures haven’t changed. Our defensive rules haven’t changed. We’re just playing a bit of carefree footy and really working for each other and working for the club.
“We look back at a few of the games, we lost them by two points and it was just silly little errors that were costing us.
“I think the boys just got sick of it and started to play some footy and started to chance their arm. Boys like Mango (Bowen) and Johnno are starting to really find some form and our two front rowers are going great.
“Across the park, we’re just chipping in and working really hard for each other.”
However far the Cowboys go this season, Thompson’s campaign won’t be over as he is expected to be part of Papua New Guinea’s World Cup tilt.
“I’ve had a brief talk with Lammy (coach Adrian Lam) and a couple of players there so, that’s the plan,” he said.

NB: Since this story appeared, Ray Thompson has suffered a broken jaw and will likely miss the rest of the season
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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