Thomas relishes South Wales return

Gareth Thomas will be making his first ever appearance in a rugby league shirt in South Wales this Thursday when Crusaders take on Harlequins on Thursday.

The former Wales rugby union captain who won 100 caps in the 15-man code has said that playing for the Crusaders is the biggest challenge of his life.

He has won Heineken Cups, Grand Slams and played for the British and Irish Lions but he wishes that he could have played rugby league earlier in his life.

“I remember talking to Kevin Ellis before I came up (to Wrexham),” Thomas said. “And he said to me that you’ll think to yourself that after a couple of weeks of playing it, you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t do it earlier. I was asking that question to myself after just two weeks of training! It’s something so different and testing for me that I wish I was just had a few more years ahead of me to establish myself as it’s a great game to play.

“The fitness levels are very different (in rugby league). Rugby League players are a lot fitter as it’s a constant game, it’s always on the go, you’re always having to move back 10 metres. In rugby union, playing as a back, you have time to rest with scrums and line-outs and let the forwards do the work, but in league it’s pretty much a team-game and everybody’s working constantly.

“As Dylan Thomas said ‘Ambition is Critical’ and I feel fresh, I feel great and the first two weeks of training made me feel like an 18-year old again. I love rugby, the sport, the people, the fact I can run out onto the field in front of fans, and I don’t want to lose that. I love challenges and there’s been no bigger challenge for me than this one with the Crusaders now.”

Thomas faced Harlequins (albeit their rugby union arm) six times when with Cardiff Blues and never finished on the losing side as they won 20-6 and 45-20, won 23-12 and drew 13-13 in 2007-08, and won 30-26 and drew 32-32 in 1999-2000. In fact, his final try for the Blues was against Harlequins on January 24th this year – a good omen perhaps for when Alfie comes on the field to take on their rugby league side at The Gnoll this Thursday night.

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