x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Thomas is eager to be a Crusader

Gareth Thomas, the former Wales and British & Irish Lions rugby union captain, cannot wait to pull on the red jersey of the Super League side Crusaders.

Gareth Thomas, the former Wales and British & Irish Lions rugby union captain, cannot wait to pull on the red jersey of the Super League side Crusaders. Thomas, the most capped player in Welsh rugby union history, has become the biggest convert to rugby league since the union game went professional in 1995 when he switched codes at the weekend. He will not be available to make his Super League debut today when the Crusaders take on Warrington, but is expected to make his first start against the Catalans Dragons on March 19.

The utility back has signed a contract until the end of the year with an option for a second season which would take him past his 37th birthday, but he was quick to play down the age factor. "I've constantly pushed myself to the limit," he said. "I feel that my body is fine, my fitness is fine and this, if anything, will give me more of an appetite for rugby." Thomas will start training with his new teammates tomorrow after the Cardiff Blues agreed to release him from the two months remaining on his deal.

Brian Noble, the Crusaders head coach, said he was delighted his new recruit was keen to play the 13-a-side game. "That's the first criteria that Gareth met. If you don't want to play this game, it's too tough, you've got to be up for the challenge," said Noble. Warrington's former Wales captain, Lee Briers, remains on the sidelines for today's clash. In today's other game St Helens are without their influential Australia centre Matt Gidley for their visit to Hull KR, who have Ben Galea, the Australian back-row forward, available.

Super League leaders Wigan suffered a stunning defeat on Friday when Bradford overturned a 20-point half-time deficit to pull off a 22-20 victory. * With agencies