Thomas: Leav­ing Wales gave me the kick I needed

Llanelli Star - - RUGBY -

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.

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