Thomas: Leaving Wales gave me the kick I needed
THERE are very few players who finds positives from regional rugby rejection in Wales.
And even fewer have had a Wallabies legend keeping his backrow spot warm when sidelined by injury.
But those are the rapid steps Bristol Bears flanker Dan Thomas has made in English rugby’s top flight since being told by the Scarlets his services were no longer required back in 2014.
His move across the Severn to Gloucester didn’t exactly go swimmingly for the Wales Under20s flanker, with just 16 appearances over the course of three seasons.
He left Kingsholm for West Country rivals Bristol for the start of their 2017-18 season in the Greene King IPA Championship.
Now after just one full season among some of the best back-row players in world rugby, former England prop turned esteemed rugby pundit David Flatman has picked out Thomas as one of his Premiership players of the season.
Flatman told Channel Five’s Gallagher Premiership show: “I hadn’t heard much about Dan Thomas before this season, but he’s been one of my players of the season.
“He’s kept George Smith on the bench and he’s been fantastic. And after one season in the Premiership, Bristol have got a real identity.
“We know exactly what they’re about, they’re great to watch, they’re all buying in.”
Sixteen appearances in the top flight this season and glowing praise from one of rugby’s best TV analysts are all a far cry from 2014 when Thomas was being shown the Parc y Scarlets exit door.
Instead of focusing on the negatives of regional rejection, Thomas, from Carmarthen, used the snub as impetus to reinvent himself in England, even though his first attempts in Gloucester fell flat.
But he told The Rugby Paper: “When I left the Scarlets I was really frustrated, but looking back I can happily say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me because it gave me the kick up the backside I needed.
“I wouldn’t be in Bristol today if Dan Thomas scores for Bristol against Leicester.