Consistency key for All Blacks hopeful Thompson
Rob Thompson is confident he can push for an All Blacks spot, but he is not sweating on a call up.
The Highlanders midfielder was in Palmerston North during the break in the Super Rugby season and took the opportunity to pull on his Manawatu Turbos kit ahead of his debut season with his home province.
But many were tipping the 26-year-old to be in Auckland with the All Blacks instead, such has been his form for the southernmost franchise this season.
Thompson said he had not heard from the All Blacks coaches, nor had he expected to.
“I was not expecting anything. I know that I can put myself in a position to compete for an opportunity now after reflecting on the season so far. I will look to grow as a player from this season skillset-wise and knowledge of the game. If it happens it happens,” he said.
He hoped consistency with the Highlanders and the Turbos would help get him across the line in terms of a national call-up.
Thompson called time on his 49-game tenure with Canterbury earlier this year to return to Manawatu.
The Palmerston North Boys’ High School product said the passing of his father and Varsity coaching stalwart Geoff Thompson last year spurred his desire to spend more time with his family.
“My old man past away [last year]. It really hit home that I wanted to come home and be with my family again.
“For me it is all about being there for my younger nephews coming through. I want to show them that if they are gifted, they can make a career out of playing sport.”
Thompson played his rugby in Manawatu for Varsity, a club he played one game for last season, before heading off to Canterbury in 2012.
He played for High School Old Boys in Canterbury where he was coached by Aaron Mauger.
He cracked the Canterbury provincial team in 2013.
“When I went down there I thought, ‘This is my last chance of cracking it, if I don’t I will probably have to give up’. I went down really focused on being a professional rugby player.
“[In Canterbury] taught me how to play to a system. I did not know anything about structure when I went down, I was pretty freestyle at Massey. I was just young, I did not have much of an idea. Canterbury kept me in a system where I was looked after well and it all panned out.”
Thompson was called into the Crusaders in 2014, before linking with the Highlanders in 2016.
Earlier this year he inked a two-year extension with the Highlanders seeing him through to the end of the 2020 season.
When Thompson’s playing days eventually come to an end, he already knows his next step.
“I want to train race horses after professional rugby. We grew up in the racing industry. I worked at the stables for Jeff Lynds. I still have a lot to do with him and he has been a mentor since I was 13. He stills rings me, to this day, every week.”
But he has a long rugby career ahead of him yet before the call of the stables take over.