New Zealand v Wales, Carisbrook, June 19
Thomas promises to take his chance
June 17, 2010
Gavin Thomas has vowed to impress on his Wales return © Getty Images
Gavin Thomas has promised to make an impression after being handed an international lifeline by Wales.
The Dragons flanker starts against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday, three years after his last Test appearance. While his inclusion in the squad is fortuitous, coming after Martyn Williams' decision to rest and an injury to Sam Warburton, it is reward for a strong season at club level and presents a chance to press his claims for the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
"I'm looking forward to this game more than I have any others," Thomas said. "I didn't think it would happen. It's here and I need to do something about it. This is a performance I need to get right."
Thomas' 22 Wales caps, the first coming against Japan in 2001, came while he was with the Scarlets. Having been released by his long-time employers, he has kick-started his career at Rodney Parade with a string of combative showings. Now he has the chance to test his renewed form against the best in the business, All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.
"I'm a more rounded player now," he said. "I just practice harder now to be honest. Then I took it for granted that I could do it and keep up. Now I want to impress myself on people, on the opposition."
Thomas also praised the new tackle interpretations, believing that the freedome they offered helped his game.
"I like them," he said. "You can't go to the floor with people and hold on at the same time. You need to release and there's a bit more counter-rucking and those sorts of things and that seems to have helped me. You can give more penalties away, that's for sure. You've got to be careful. I'm doing all right with it but we'll see on Saturday."