Bodene Thompson has more time to make up than most when the Vodafone Warriors take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Westpac Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off).
The seventh-round contest will be just his fourth of the year after a disrupted offseason and an injury-enforced absence for the last three weeks.
The 27-year-old former Gold Coast and Wests Tigers back rower was unavailable for the Downer Auckland NRL Nines and the Vodafone Warriors’ two trials in February but was back on deck for the first-round encounter against his former Tigers side at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Despite his limited build-up, Thompson was impressive in a 49-minute shift, scoring a try, making 65 metres from six runs plus 28 tackles with just one missed tackle.
He was used off the bench the first week but stepped back into his starting role the following week against Brisbane, playing the full 80 minutes and making 47 tackles with no misses as well as 80 metres from nine runs.
The Tauranga-born Thompson was quickly warming to his work and took both his intensity and output to another level in the tough third-round battle against Melbourne as he delivered a game-high 52 tackles – again without a miss – in another 80-minute effort.
He picked up a rib complaint, though, which put him back in the rehab group and disrupted the first-choice back row combination.
Now it’s back in harness, Thompson ready to take up his familiar role on the right edge with Simon Mannering returning to loose forward.
This will be Thompson’s first Vodafone Warriors appearance at Westpac Stadium – he missed last year’s fixture there against St George Illawarra – but he played at the venue in 2014 when he was in the Wests Tigers side beaten 42-18 by the Vodafone Warriors.