Salford's unlikely helpers in Super League bid revealed – Antoine Griezmann and Alexandre Lacazette

Salford's unlikely helpers in Super League bid revealed – Antoine Griezmann and Alexandre Lacazette

March 6, 2022

SALFORD can call on two unlikely sources to aid their Super League bid – Antoine Griezmann and Alexandre Lacazette.

This is not an unlikely transfer swoop bringing the football stars to rugby league but part of the education of Josh Thompson.

The assistant physio may be seen on the pitch making sure Paul Rowley's stars are OK.

But in a past life, he was an England Under-19 defender playing against what would go on to be a superstar duo in the European Championships.

And the lessons he took from them and other talents he faced – and from playing for Celtic – can play as big a part in helping Red Devils players mentally as much as he can physically.

He said about the 2010 tournament, which saw him line up alongside the likes of Nathaniel Clyne: “All the players were a joke, it was a massive step up.

“When you see good players do things a lot of the time, everybody did them all the time. They weren’t doing something crazy, the norm changed to that level.

“Now it helps that when the players and I have conversations about different sports, we have that understanding about what it’s like from the players’ side.

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“I was injured quite a bit so I know what it’s like to pull out of a session. I also know what it’s like to be too proud to pull out of one and not accept the fact you’re injured.”

Thompson, who came through at Stockport County, may have been one of the nation's best young defenders but he always had an eye on an academic career.

Now he is part of Salford's staff, he knows a rugby league environment is very different than a football environment.

And knowing what he knows now could have helped him avoid the serious knee injury that ended his playing days.

He also knows how to spot when players are talking strangely because of concussion – even the ones who are strange anyway!

Thompson added: “We might have some strange characters but you get to know them. You know in which way they’re strange.

“Sometimes you may notice a player getting up late from a tackle and when you get to them, you may think it’s their shoulder but they don’t seem quite right.

“Someone who’s usually quiet could get aggressive or someone who’s always talking doesn’t seem too sure or avoids your questions.

“Some even refuse to answer as they don’t want to go off. I’ve had players be adamant they’re fine but you say, ‘I’m not asking if you want to come off. I’m telling you you are coming off.’

“And for me, playing football is a big strength. It may be a different sport but I know what adrenaline does. I know what it’s like to be in that situation and provides context into players’ mindset.

“I was always a bit weird. Once I started playing, I never gave up on the idea that at some point I’d go to university and get a degree in something medical.

“Being a physio has taught me loads I didn’t know as a player. Regarding injury prevention, I tried and did what I thought was right at the time but having been educated now, there are things I could’ve done to give me a better chance of avoiding them.

“It may have prolonged my career and being I physio now, I was guilty of maybe overlooking the role when I was playing. Did I give the commitment to them that I expect of patients and players I treat?”

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