Thompson surprises himself with form in NRL return
When the Wests Tigers rolled out 10 new recruits over the pre-season, it would be fair to say Corey Thompson wasn't the one fans most expected to prove a hit in the first month of the Telstra Premiership.
Given he was included in a double signing announcement alongside former Melbourne Storm winger Mahe Fonua last June, the club probably was not as convinced either.
Labelled a stop-gap and a low-key addition, even the 27-year-old admits he arrived with little expectation.
"I knew what I was capable of but didn't expect all this to happen," Thompson told NRL.com just minutes before he signed an upgraded deal with the club until the end of 2019 on Tuesday.
"It's all worked out so far on a personal level but it's a long season and if I don't keep working hard and have the same mentality I could easily disappear and be playing reserve grade. Even if I end up playing reserve grade I've got to appreciate that."
Thompson has arguably been the NRL's bargain buy of the season after four rounds, scoring three tries from four line breaks with an NRL-high 222 kick return metres and eight offloads.
But racing out of the blocks is certainly not out of the ordinary for the former Bulldogs winger, who managed 25 appearances in his debut season in 2014.
"Sometimes even I forget I played in the grand final that season," Thompson said.
"I got my jersey and medal framed but it doesn't feel real anymore. Once it was over and done I was thinking far out, how easy, I've played in a grand final in my first year. If I'd won that game I would've been happy to retire.
"Play one year and almost win a grand final … that would've done me."
So when Des Hasler told Thompson the club had Will Hopoate on the books for 2016 and he had to move on, it didn't go down well with the Brisbane-born outside back.
"Yeah, I wasn't too happy. Not because I was let go but more because no one else wanted me," Thompson said.
"If I stayed and mucked around I thought I was going to get another chance somewhere.
"Some offers in England came in and it got to a point where I had to take it. The money was too good."
Thompson will line up against the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night for the second time in a month, but this time finds himself on the wing opposite former Tigers speedster Josh Addo-Carr.
"He's not as tall as Suliasi Vunivalu, which is good," Thompson said.
"It doesn't bother me how tall I am, as long as I jump up and make an effort with the contest [but] it's not going to be an easy contest.
"If I can get my body into them it's going to make it difficult. These days the centres are good enough to escort the runners off the ball. There's a lot of factors that will help me up against taller wingers.
"But he's lightning quick. I can't give him space on the outside or he'll take it."