Thomas honoured by Wales call-up

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Gareth Thomas is set to win his first international rugby league cap after being named in Wales’ initial training squad for the end-of-season Alitalia European Cup.

The 36-year-old Thomas, a former British and Irish Lions captain who won the last of his 100 caps in the 15-man code in the 2007 World Cup, is in his first season of league with Crusaders and has made himself available to Wales coach Iestyn Harris, who is on the Wrexham club’s backroom staff.

“It is a great feeling,” said Thomas.

“When I came here, my focus was purely on playing for the Crusaders and being part of the successful set-up here.

“It almost feels like I’m playing for Wales when I play for Crusaders, being the only Welsh franchise in Super League.

“As the season went on and the more I got involved in the game, I knew I would love to represent my country again.

“To represent Wales in a different sport, in such a short space of time, is a massive, massive honour and achievement for me.

“No one likes representing their country more than me. For me to hopefully say I’ve represented Wales in both codes is a great honour for me and my family and is one of the highlights of my rugby career.”

Wales meet Scotland, Ireland and France in their defence of the European Cup, with this year’s winners qualifying for the 2011 Four Nations. They will also play warm-up matches against Italy in October.

Crusaders prop Jordan James, who led Wales to victory in the European Cup last year, said: “It’s a strong squad.

“The players who played last year would have benefited from that experience and there are also some new faces in there. It’s another step forward for us and hopefully we can win a place in next year’s Four Nations.”

See full story in the Leader

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