"As tough as a two dollar steak" was how North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green described Ray Thompson after his performance against the Newcastle Knights.
The utility has returned from a several surgeries and a disrupted pre-season to lift the Cowboys when he came off the bench against the Knights.
"To come out and do what he did tonight it's just impressive. He is a perfect example for those young guys about what it takes to be an NRL player," Green said of Thompson.
"He just got out there and did his job. He was tough in defence, he competed in attack and to do that off the back of what's happened to him in the last couple of months is really impressive."
While Green knew there would be an element of doubt for Thompson returning to the NRL after so long, he was confident Thompson's experience would help his return.
"He's lucky he's got more experience to draw on to get him in the right head space to make sure that he goes out and does play well and he did that tonight," he said.
Thompson spoke to the media after the game and in a theme that's becoming common in Green's side, was focused solely on going out and executing his role for the team.
"I think without looking too far ahead it's the old cliché take it week by week… tonight was a good step forward I think the key is to build on the performance from tonight," Thompson said.
While his return to the NRL went about as ideally as he could have hoped, Thompson's focus has moved to ensuring he plays better every week.
"There's a few things that we can fix up and me personally a couple of defensive errors and a couple of things in attack that I can sort of tweak and get better out but that comes with game experience and game awareness," Thompson said.
First published on NRL.com.