Tough-as-nails North Queensland Toyota Cowboy Ray Thompson will call time on his football career at the end of the current National Rugby League season, the club announced today.
Townsville junior Thompson, 27, has been with the Cowboys since 2009, the year he made both his National Youth Competition and NRL debuts.
He has gone on to play 111 matches for his beloved Cowboys, has represented Papua New Guinea at the 2013 World Cup and played for the Indigenous team at the showcase All Stars match.
In announcing his retirement, Thompson said persistent knee problems played a part in him coming to the decision.
He stressed, though, that he remained committed to getting back on to the field this year to help his team for the remainder of the regular season, and on to a potential seventh straight finals series.
Thompson also signalled his intention to be available for selection for PNG at this year’s Rugby League World Cup, where the Kumuls will play their pool matches in the nation’s capital, Port Moresby.
“This club has been everything to me for nearly a decade, it’s given me plenty and I’d like to think I’ve given back to it as well,” Thompson said.
“I’ve got nothing but great memories of my time playing here and to take the field with these blokes has been a true privilege.
“I’ve battled through some injuries throughout my career, so now was the right time to call curtains, but rest assured I’ll be giving it my all for the rest of the season.”
Cowboys General Manager – Football Peter Parr said Thompson epitomised everything good about the Cowboys: mateship, resilience, hard work and an absolute desire and willingness to put one’s best foot forward each and every week.
“Earlier in the year, Paul Green said Ray was ‘as tough as a two-dollar steak’ after he played against the Knights,” Parr said.
“That’s been the story of his entire career, and while he’s had his challenges on the injury front, he’s never blinked at getting back on to the field.
“This club is a better place for Ray’s time here.”
Thompson has played six games for the Cowboys this year, and is close to taking the field again as he continues to manage his training load for the remainder of the season.
And while his playing days are coming to an end, Thompson won’t be lost to the club altogether after agreeing to take up an off-field position from November.
Thompson will work with the club’s community team as an engagement and programs officer, where he will join former teammate Matt Bowen in rolling out the club’s significant portfolio of programs, including TryTime! and Try for 5!
RAY THOMPSON FACT FILE
Born: January 20, 1990
Junior club: Centrals ASA Tigers
NRL games to date: 111
NRL and Cowboys debut: Round 26, 2009 v Roosters
Representative honours: Papua New Guinea 2011, 2013, 2015; Indigenous All Stars 2015
Other honours: Cowboys Most Improved Player, 2011