RAY TO PUT THE BOOTS AWAY

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL THOMP­SON michael.thomp­son@news.com.au

IN­JURIES have fi­nally caught up with pop­u­lar Cow­boys player Ray Thomp­son who will re­tire af­ter this sea­son.

Thomp­son ( pic­tured with daugh­ter Ivy Rae, 2) played 111 games for the Cow­boys af­ter mak­ing his de­but in 2009.

How­ever, Thomp­son still has un­fin­ished busi­ness on the foot­ball field and wants to play for PNG at this year’s World Cup.

TO SEE THIS CLUB CHANGE INTO WHAT IT IS NOW, I’D LIKE TO THINK I’VE PLAYED A PART IN THAT.

RAY Thomp­son may be hang­ing up the boots, but the fiercely loyal North Queens­lan­der will al­ways be a Cow­boy.

Thomp­son yes­ter­day an­nounced his re­tire­ment from the NRL at the end of the sea­son, with per­sis­tent knee prob­lems play­ing a de­ci­sive role in his de­ci­sion.

That, and his de­sire to be an ac­tive fa­ther for his young fam­ily.

The former Townsville Cen­trals ju­nior fronted me­dia with wife Sab­rina Gal­liozzi and daugh­ter Ivy Rae at Cow­boys head­quar­ters, where Thomp­son first be­gan his Cow­boys ca­reer with a soli­tary game for the Young Guns in 2007.

He was a mem­ber of the club’s in­au­gu­ral un­der- 20s team, be­com­ing a star half­back, and in 2009 Thomp­son made his NRL de­but off the bench against the Sydney Roost­ers at Al­lianz Sta­dium.

From there we went on to play 111 first- grade games, rep­re­sent Pa­pua New Guinea at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and play for the Indige­nous All Stars.

“It’s been a dream come true to rep­re­sent this club, this re­gion and every­thing this club stands for,” Thomp­son said.

“To see the club grow, par­tic­u­larly in the last few years since ‘ Greeny’ ( Cow­boys coach Paul Green) has been along, it’s been a priv­i­lege to be a part of it.

“To see this club change into what it is now, I’d like to think I’ve played a part in that.

“I’m proud I get to leave this club in the po­si­tion it is now.”

Thomp­son said he had lit­tle idea

RAY THOMP­SON

what his fu­ture had in store when he made his first steps into the NRL.

“To play one NRL game was a dream come true let alone 100,” he said. “It’s some­thing I’ll re­mem­ber for­ever.”

Thomp­son said re­veal­ing the news to team­mates was among the most dif­fi­cult mo­ments of his ca­reer.

“I’ve been through a lot with those guys and al­though the squad does change from year to year there’s that core group of guys like ‘ Johnno’ and ‘ Coops’,” he said.

“You feel like you’re let­ting them down and you don’t want it to be like that.”

Thomp­son re­vealed he first con­tem­plated re­tire­ment dur­ing pre­sea­son train­ing.

“Pre- sea­son was prob­a­bly the first dis­cus­sion I had with my wife ... pre- sea­son is al­ways tough, but it was a dif­fer­ent sort of pain and I knew it wasn’t right,” he said.

“I thought I might have a bit of a bat­tle this year and af­ter the Par­ra­matta game I told Greeny – he was prob­a­bly the first per­son at this club I told – and my wife knew ob­vi­ously.

“I knew early on, but I just had to make sure it was the right de­ci­sion.

“But now I know I’ve made the right de­ci­sion for the right rea­sons.

“My daugh­ter is go­ing to play soccer, touch and all that, and I’d like to be an ac­tive fa­ther.”

Thomp­son will work along­side club leg­end Matty Bowen in the Cow­boys com­mu­nity depart­ment as an en­gage­ment and pro­grams of­fi­cer from Novem­ber, but Thomp­son said his foot­ball ca­reer was not over yet.

He has sig­nalled his in­ten­tion to play for PNG at this year’s World Cup, and wants to re­turn to re­turn to full fit­ness as the Cow­boys bat­tle through in­jury.

Green, who first coached Thomp- son as a 14- year- old at the Queens­land Academy of Sport, said Thomp­son’s ser­vice to the Cow­boys on and off the field had been im­mense.

“He’s played his heart out, he’s tough, gives every­thing and will do any­thing for the team,” he said.

“They’re the type of guys who build a strong club and a re­ally strong cul­ture.

“I’m re­ally thank­ful that I was lucky enough to coach him.”

Cow­boys foot­ball gen­eral man­ager Peter Parr said Thomp­son was the pro­to­type Cow­boys’ player.

“Ear­lier in the year Paul Green said Ray was ‘ as tough as a two- dol­lar steak’ af­ter he played against the Knights,” he said.

“This club is a bet­ter place for Ray’s time here.”

Main pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

Main pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

FOND FAREWELL: Re­tir­ing Cow­boy Ray Thomp­son with wife Sab­rina and daugh­ter Ivy, 2 ( main), Thomp­son play­ing un­der- 20s in 2009 ( be­low left) and the util­ity takes on New­cas­tle ear­lier this sea­son ( right).

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