LIAM Thompson, who has made 105 senior appearances in his five seasons at Oldham, has confirmed that he is heading off to Australia to start a new chapter of his life in the Wollongong area of New South Wales.
He’s lined up with a job out there and he’s also considering his options in choosing one of two clubs who have made him an offer.
‘Thompy’, a hard-working, big-tackling back-row forward, won England schoolboys’ honours and then rose through the ranks at Wigan and Widnes before becoming one of Scott Naylor’s first signings in 2013.
He said farewell to Naylor, to assistant coach Peter Carey, to chairman Chris Hamilton and to many of his team mates at the club’s 20th anniversary gala dinner in the Queen Elizabeth Hall last Friday.
“This is something I have to do,” said Thompson (25), who has recently completed a masters degree in sports science. “If I don’t do it now I never will . . . and then I would spend the rest of my life thinking ‘what if’.
“I’m not tied to a job or a personal relationship and I’ve finished my studies so now is the time to go.
“I’m looking forward to playing in New South Wales, but I still haven’t made up my mind about which offer I’m going to accept.”
Thompson was hit by injury problems in his first two seasons at Oldham, but he enjoyed two cracking years in 2015, when Roughyeds won promotion from League 1 to the Championship, and in 2016 when Naylor’s men did well to stay up at the expense of the two Cumbrian clubs, Workington Town and Whitehaven.
Said Naylor: “We’re really sorry to be losing Liam, but he’s right when he says now is the time he must go if he is ever going to do it. We hope everything works out for him and we thank him for his wonderful service to the club over five years.
“He’s got a job and the choice of two clubs in the Wollongong area, so he’s got everything in place to make it work.
“If you’ve no ties approaching your mid-twenties it’s the perfect time to make a go of it on the other side of the world.
“He’s been a great lad for the club over five years. For most of them, he’s been there or thereabouts when we’ve been dishing out club honours at the end of each season and in one of those years he was a very worthy recipient of the player-of-the-year award.
“It shows what sort of a lad he is, and what he has contributed to this club, when you consider that in five years here he has always been high up in the ratings and a regular in the 17 whenever fit. He hasn’t missed many matches in the last three seasons, that’s for sure.”