Thomas, who played for Crusaders in 2010 and 2011 follwing an illustrious career as a rugby union international for both Wales and the British and Irish Lions, has become the first ambassador for the competition which will return to these shores for the first time since 2000.
His first role as 2013 Rugby League World Cup ambassador was to help launch the tournament with a series of visits to 12 national media outlets in London on Monday, when he was accompanied by the World Cup trophy.
“I’m absolutely honoured to be the first World Cup ambassador,” said Thomas. “I want to do everything I can to help the sport. A World Cup in any sport takes over a nation and I passionately believe people who aren’t interested in sport become interested, which can only be a good thing.
“I’m personally excited to see the top players from all over the world grace the field in England and Wales and I think the top players from the likes of Australia and New Zealand will excite the next generation of fans and players, which is a fantastic development opportunity for the game.”
Thomas played a pivotal role in Wales‘s 2010 Rugby League European Cup victory over France and has plenty of world cup experience from his career in rugby union, having played in the 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 competitions and he believes the 2013 Rugby League World Cup can have a lasting effect on the sport, especially in his native Wales.
“Representing your country in any sport is an amazing experience, but to represent your nation at a World Cup is really something special,” he said. “You have to work so hard and wait patiently for a World Cup chance, so to experience it first hand is definitely the pinnacle for any Rugby League player.
“Wales is a Rugby-mad nation, whether that is league or union. I watch both codes and I know I am joined by thousands of others in Wales who do the same. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for Rugby League in Wales and as a Welshman myself, I know everyone in the nation is passionate about being hosts of the prestigious 2013 tournament.
“Competitions like the World Cup are all about leaving a legacy. This tournament shouldn’t be any different with two host nations who absolutely love their rugby and this will ensure the competition leaves a lasting legacy.”