Australian NRL favourite Lance Thompson dead at 40

Former St George rugby player Lance Thompson (Youtube grab)

SYDNEY: Australia’s rugby league community was mourning Friday after the death of former St George Illawarra and Cronulla player Lance Thompson at the age of just 40.

Police found Thompson’s body at his home in Sydney’s southern suburbs on Thursday night, the National Rugby League (NRL) website said.

The death was not being treated as suspicious and did not appear to involve self-harm, it added.

Thompson’s work ethic and uncompromising attitude made him a cult hero at St George, where he played 201 games from 1995-2005, reaching grand finals in 1996 and 1999.

He finished his career with three seasons at neighbouring Cronulla, revealing when he retired that he had type 1 diabetes and required daily insulin injections.

Television commentator Andrew Voss said he was “absolutely numb” at news of Thompson’s death.

“He proved you don’t need to have won (grand finals) or played for your country to be a champion,” Voss tweeted.

Australian Rugby League chairman Peter Beattie said it was “a very sad day” for the sport, while former St George teammate Ashton Sims rated Thompson one of the toughest forwards he had played with.