The Newcastle Knights have plenty of competition for their front-row spots in 2022, but former rugby union talent Leo Thompson will be looking to add his name to the pool in the second half of the year.

The little known prop has switched from the Canberra Raiders this off-season, with the club in the nation's capital not thrilled to be losing the youngster.

According to the The Newcastle Herald, Thompson has signed with the Knights on a two-year deal, although it's unclear whether that will remain a development deal into the second year or not.

Thompson will be forced to start out in the New South Wales Cup under the terms of the development deal, however, under current NRL rules, would be eligible to play in the NRL from Round 10 - although the impacts of COVID may yet have an impact on those rules.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart last week called for all players from Jersey Flegg and the New South Wales Cup to be allowed to play NRL if COVID inevitably strikes next season, ruling players out.

It's a policy the NRL are reportedly open to.

The Newcastle recruit might be stuck behind the Saifiti brothers, David Klemmer and a handful of other props in Jirah Momoisea, Pasami Saulo and Sauaso Sue, but coach Adam O'Brien told the publication that he won't look out of place if and when he gets an opportunity in the top grade.

"I'll say this about Leo, he won't look out of place when he gets an opportunity," O'Brien said.

"He's an explosive runner of the footy and his strengths are his physicality and his aggression. He's always got a smile on his face but I can tell you I wouldn't like to be on the end of a right hook from him. I've seen him box. There is a lot to like about him.

"He's the shorter middle, that barrel-type player and he's got ball skills and a change of pace.

"He's fitted in great and will definitely complement our tall timber that's already there."

The New Zealand-born 21-year-old switched from rugby union ahead of last season when the Raiders gave him an opportunity in the New South Wales Cup.

At 107 kilograms, it's easy to see why O'Brien holds him in such high opinion, and why the Raiders were so disappointed about losing a talent they first found in an under-20s representative game in Fiji.

Thompson is likely to play his first game for the Knights when the New South Wales Cup team get their season going on Sunday, March 13 at home against the North Sydney Bears.