How a moment of clarity in a prison cell turned Souths star from 140kg factory worker to cult hero

How a moment of clarity in a prison cell turned Souths star from 140kg factory worker to cult hero

How a moment of clarity in a prison cell saw Souths star go from 140kg overweight factory worker who hated footy to the Rabbitohs’ latest cult hero

  • Winger’s incredible story of redemption began in a Sydney prison cell
  • Izaac Thompson, 25, made his first-class debut after nearly five years off
  • Thompson ballooned up to 140kg while away from rugby league

Souths winger Izaac Thompson has been on fire in the NRL of late – scoring a try in each of his two appearances – but just a couple of years ago the 25-year-old winger was sitting in a jail cell at a Sydney police station and decided for what to do with his life.

Thompson weighed 140kg at the time and hadn’t laced up his boots since 2017 – and he didn’t really miss the sport either.

It wasn’t Thompson’s first arrest, but he quickly decided it would be his last.

Izaac Thompson drives the ball during the round 22 match against the Eels - just his second game in first grade

Izaac Thompson drives the ball during the round 22 match against the Eels – just his second game in first grade

“It hit me. I was emotional. Thompson told the Daily Telegraph.

“I could feel a shift in me that I needed to do something different to change this.

And I told myself, if I didn’t go into (prison), I would only do good in my life. I wanted to cut off all bad influences.

“I wanted to live honestly and stay out of trouble.”

Thomson arrived in Australia from New Zealand at the age of 12 and quickly made a name for himself as a junior athlete. Attending Endeavor Sports High, he went on to represent NSW in the under-16s as a winger.

The youngster went on to play Dragons SG Ball alongside NRL stars Addin Fonua-Blake, Matt Dufty, Jacob Host and Hame Sele, but at some point decided to stop playing.

“I fell in love with it in my 20s,” Thompson said. “I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

Playing first-class football for Souths after almost five years away from the sport, Izaac Thompson was arrested and bloated to 140kg

Playing first-class football for Souths after almost five years away from the sport, Izaac Thompson was arrested and bloated to 140kg

After his run-in with the law in 2020, Thompson decided to change some things in his life. He wanted to be a better man – and more importantly he wanted to be a better dad to his young daughter Nirvana.

His first step was to get a nine-to-five job in a factory.

Not long after, Thompson received a phone call from his old mate and current Souths player Hame Sele that would change everything.

Sele wanted to know if Thompson would like to play again.

“I pretty much laughed in Hame’s face because I never wanted to go back to football,” Thompson said.

“I hated football. I told Hame, I don’t know if I want to do it. He just said, think about it.

Souths coach Jason Demetriou was also interested in getting Thompson back on the football field. What he didn’t know was that he had ballooned up to 140 kg.

“I couldn’t even run,” Thompson said. “I had to go first.”

“I didn’t even have a gym membership. We have a hill at our house. I couldn’t run 100 meters up that hill.

“That’s how it started. I walked up and down that thing. That was the worst.

Thompson cleaned up his diet of KFC and kebabs and within four months he had lost 30kg.

South winger Izaac Thompson with daughter Nirvana

South winger Izaac Thompson with daughter Nirvana

But soon after, he suffered another setback in the way of injury. However, he did not give up and recovered to make a comeback in the first round of the NSW Cup this year.

The speedster scored 20 tries in just 16 games for Souths before earning the call-up to his first-class debut in last weekend’s win over the Warriors.

Coach Demetriou held back tears as the rookie-aged rookie took the field against the New Zealanders, knowing how far Thompson had come to be there.

“I have come a long way. I am proud of myself. I don’t usually say that. But where I have come, I am, Thompson said. “This is the beginning for me.”

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