Gareth Thomas

Spotlight - Gareth Thomas

GARETH THOMAS is the latest prop star to emerge at the Ospreys and to play for Wales.

The loosehead prop’s emergence during Toby Booth’s reign as Head Coach at the Ospreys, means there are three international calibre props competing for the No 1 jersey.

And Thomas, Nicky Smith and Rhodri Jones are all doing the same at Test level with Wales.

All three are carrying the torch of the tradition of being loosehead props for the Ospreys and Wales.

Duncan Jones and Paul James both set the bar and represented the Ospreys on the international stage, setting a standard being emulated by Thomas, who won his first Wales cap in the summer.

Thomas, 28, a Wales Under20s prop, admits he is relishing the opportunity he has been given to show what he can do for the Ospreys and with Wales.

"It was brilliant, I loved it,” said Thomas.

"I won my first caps in the summer, but there were 8,000 people in the stadium. This autumn it was packed, with 65,000 to 70,000 people there. It was an unbelievable experience; I’d like to do it all over again."

"I’m looking forward to every opportunity I get.

"I wasn’t involved with Wales at the start of the autumn, so my biggest thing now is to work on things I need to work on, to get myself in the squad from the start.

Gareth Thomas
"I’m looking forward to every opportunity I get."

"It’s all I’ve wanted since I was a kid. If I was in my 30s, I’d still want a cap. Every rugby player feels the same. It’s your dream.

“It’s all about working hard with the coaches at the Ospreys, keeping my head down and working hard.

“With Toby coming in, I had an opportunity and what he wanted suited me as a player and a prop.

“The opportunity he gave me helped my development as a player.

“I am playing now, playing well and I know I just have to keep going now. I feel there is more to come and I know there are bits of my game I need to work on and that is the exciting bit for me.

“I know there is more to come and I am not stopping my journey as a player. It’s all in front of me.

“All of us – Nicky, Rhod and myself – are international looseheads but we have been pushing each other for a few years now.

“You have to be at a different level to play here and that has helped all three of us.  There is a real competition for places here.”

Thomas has been part of a dominant Ospreys scrum that has begun to establish an impressive reputation during this campaign.

Along with his three fellow looseheads, the Ospreys have a front row combination which includes, Tomas Francis, Tom Botha, Ma’afu Fia, Sam Parry and Elvis Taione, all playing their part in laying a solid platform for the team.

Both has made it a focus for the Ospreys to have a strong scrum, lineout and driving game. Thomas, like all the Ospreys front rowers, has played a key role in those facets of the game.

Thomas is the first to pay tribute to Duncan Jones’ role in his development this season.

“Duncan has really helped me over the last year,” said Thomas.

“He really pushes us all and there is a really nice blend here at the moment.”

Then, of course, there is his unique training partner, Bernie, his Bernese mountain dog.

The pair became a viral sensation during the first Covid-19 lockdown, with Thomas training with his 9st 6lb dog in the back garden.

"He’s Insta-famous. I’m staying humble,” said Thomas.

“He is the big dog now and the cool kid at home.

"He helped me during that time.

"I didn’t have many weights with me, so I had to pick him up and he’s a big boy.

"He’s about 60 kilos, a decent weight.

"I was lifting him and doing squats.

"He’s helped my scrum a lot over the past few years as well, doing one on one scrums in the garden!"