Thompson inspired by Back
July 19, 2010
Steve Thompson is excited by a return to the Premiership © Getty Images
Steve Thompson has admitted that head coach Neil Back's famous will to win was a major factor in his signing for Leeds Carnegie.
The England hooker, 32, had several offers on the table after leaving Top 14 side Brive, but a meeting with his former England team-mate Back and director of rugby Andy Key quickly convinced him to return to the Aviva Premiership.
"When I spoke to Neil and Andy Key I was inspired by them," he said. "When we played together for England, Backy was coaching me even then and was always one of the leaders.
"He took hold of us and he led from the front. He's changed slightly from his playing days but he's still got that ferocious drive and ambition. Just look at what he achieved last year with Leeds. A lot of people class success as winning silverware but the fact that Leeds stayed up was a tremendous feat.
"The way they were playing for each towards the end of the season, and digging in deep, was something special and I'm looking forward to being a part of that."
The ambitious Yorkshire club have targeted Heineken Cup rugby as their goal for the forthcoming season and Thompson has been working hard to stay ahead of the game fitness-wise as he looks to make an impact. At 17st 7lb the former Lion is in good shape compared to the 22st frame he sported during his short injury-enforced retirement in 2007.
"I've worked so hard to get myself fit and I'm enjoying keeping the weight off now," he said. "After getting to 22st, I swore I'd never get to that weight again.
"I'm actually more nervous about coming back to play in the Premiership than I was going to France because there is so much to play for. It's a new chapter and I have some big goals ahead of me this season both at club and international level. I could hide out when I was in France and it made life a little bit easier. But coming back to the Premiership, I know that I will be judged more closely and will have to play the best rugby I can every single week."
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry