A man runs the ball during an NRL match

Izaac Thompson went almost five years without playing a game of footy. Now he’s scoring for South Sydney

Izaac Thompson was at home over the summer with his feet up, not thinking about footy at all.

Why would he be? He hadn’t played a game since 2017, when he was running around for the Dragons NSW Cup team. He hadn’t laced on a boot in anger since, not a single game. He did not really miss it either, he was too busy living his life.

That’s when he got the call that changed everything, from close friend and former Dragons teammate Hame Sele. It started a journey that has led Thompson to making his belated NRL debut and scoring tries in back-to-back weeks for the high-flying Rabbitohs.

“He called me and asked how I was going. I was fat as, I lied to all of them, I said I’d been training but I wasn’t doing anything,” Thompson said.

“But as soon as I got the call I put my head down and tried to work.

“I wasn’t playing anything. Nothing at all. The last time I played was 2017. The game’s a bit faster now, but the work I’ve put in is what’s got me here and now I’m reaping the rewards.”

Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou and his assistant Ben Hornby had coached Thompson as a junior at the Dragons and brought him in for pre-season.

From there, Thompson has gone from strength to strength. He scored 20 tries in 16 games for South Sydney’s NSW Cup side before getting the call for his first-grade debut with last week’s win over the Warriors.

Thompson dotted down on debut, crossed again in Friday night’s big win over Parramatta and generally looked like he’d been on the cusp of first grade for some time.


Given most mature-age rookies spend years slogging it out in reserve grade before they earn a shot at the big time, Thompson’s return from his sabbatical is one of the most extraordinary rises of any NRL debutant in recent times.

“I just needed time off. I just had my little one and some stuff happened, I just needed to get away from the game. Footy is a busy sport and you’re away from your family a lot,” Thompson said.

“I got to spend four years with my daughter, so it was good for me.

“I was pretty happy, I didn’t really want to come back to be honest. But my daughter, I wanted to do it for her, I was trying to make ends meet and I’m just lucky I’m good at football .

“I was doing heaps of different jobs, anything I could, and then JD [Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou] and Ben Hornby saved me. They gave me the lifeline and I grabbed it with both hands.”

Thompson had a lifetime to prepare for his first NRL game compared to just six days for his second, but he might be waiting a week or two for his third.