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Page last updated at 07:44 GMT, Monday, 31 May 2010 08:44 UK

Leeds sign England hooker Steve Thompson from Brive

Steve Thompson in training with England
Hooker Steve Thompson formerly played in England at Northampton

England's World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson has agreed a two-year contract with Leeds to return to the Guinness Premiership next season.

The 31-year-old, who played for England against the Barbarians on Sunday and is part of their summer tour squad, has been at French club Brive since 2007.

"It was a big decision for me to come back and I have got more nerves than I did about going to France," he said.

"But I am looking for a fresh challenge and Leeds is exactly right for me."

Thompson spent 10 years at Northampton before temporarily retiring with a neck injury in early 2007, only to return to playing later that year after taking further medical advice.

He returned to the England side last summer on the tour of Argentina and now has 55 caps to his name.

He is a world-class player who is still performing at the top of his game

Leeds head coach Neil Back

At Headingley Thompson will link up with his World Cup-winning team-mate Neil Back, who alongside director of rugby Andy Key kept Leeds in the Premiership against the odds this season.

"As a club, we are delighted to have signed a player of the calibre of Steve Thompson," said head coach Back.

"He is a world-class player who is still performing at the top of his game and he sees the move to Leeds Carnegie as a chance to improve even further.

"Importantly, Steve also has all the right characteristics to be part of our squad. We are building a strong pack here and Steve will be a great addition to that.


"We already have Andy Titterrell and Phil Nilsen at the club and the competition for the hooking spot highlights the strength in depth we are now building within the squad."

Thompson, who said he has "nothing but admiration" for what Key and Back have achieved at Headingley, has been talking to new England squad member Hendrie Fourie about the Leeds set-up.

"I have been picking his brains about how the club operates and talking about the guys," Thompson added.

"I have been watching some videos and I just want to make sure I am up to speed when I report for pre-season training."

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see also
Thompson targets World Cup spot
04 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Thompson set for surprise return
23 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Gomez signs new Headingley deal
25 May 10 |  Leeds
Leeds Carnegie sign lock Hohneck
24 May 10 |  Leeds
New deals for Leeds Carnegie pair
20 May 10 |  Leeds
Leeds target eight new signings
20 May 10 |  Leeds
Titterrell pens new deal at Leeds
13 May 10 |  Leeds
Stephenson leaves Bath for Leeds
12 May 10 |  Leeds
Hetherington eyes Leeds success
27 Apr 10 |  Leeds
10 players to exit Leeds Carnegie
25 Apr 10 |  English

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