Leeds Rhinos all-time top-10 - No 9 Joe Thompson

We have reached number nine in our choice of Leeds Rugby League/Rhinos’ all-time top-10 players.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 10:34 am
Joe Thompson in 1932.

In 10th place was record-breaking winger Eric Harris and one place ahead is rugby union convert Joe Thompson.

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Number nine: Joe Thompson.

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Master goal kicker Joe Thompson.

Born in Bristol in 1902, Joe Thompson was one of Leeds rugby league’s first superstars, having joined the club in 1923.

He made 390 appearances during a 10-year Leeds career, scoring a then-record 1,883 points from 862 goals and 53 tries.

At 5ft 10 ins and weighing 14st 10lb, Thompson was small for a prop-forward by modern standards (Mikolaj Oledzki, for example, is 6ft 2 and 17 st 3lb), but he certainly punched his weight.

Thompson grew up in Wales and played rugby union for Abercarn and Cross Keys before gaining a Test cap against England at Twickenham, aged just 20.

Ten days later he turned professional with Leeds, playing initially in the second-row, for a £300 signing-on fee.

That was a bargain for the Loiners and within three months of switching to the 13-a-side game he was a Challenge Cup winner, kicking five goals in a 28-3 demolition of Hull at Wakefield’s Belle Vue.

Thompson moved up to prop in the late 1920s and went on to star in the 1932 Challenge Cup final victory over Swinton at Wigan, when he captained the side and added four goals, in difficult, blustery conditions, to Eric Harris’ try.

He also played in three Yorkshire Cup final wins and featured in three successive tours for Great Britain, in 1924, 1928 and 1932.

Only Kevin Sinfield and Lewis Jones have kicked more goals for Leeds and - 87 years after his final game - Thompson holds third place on the club’s list of all-time points scorers.

Thompson was made a life member of the club when he retired in 1933.

After his playing days he worked as a labourer building Headingley’s new South and North Stands and had a spell as trainer-coach. He was inducted into Rhinos’ hall of fame in 2018.