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Gareth Thomas named in Wales Rugby League squad

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas made 100 Wales rugby union Test appearances

Former Wales and British & Irish Lions rugby union captain Gareth Thomas has been named in Wales' 48-man rugby league squad for the autumn campaign.

Thomas, 36, moved from Cardiff Blues to Super League's Crusaders in March.

"It's a great feeling, when I came here my focus was purely on playing for the Crusaders," said Thomas, one of a potential 16 new caps in the squad.

"As the season went on, the more I got involved in the game I knew I would love to represent my county again."

Thomas, 36, made his 100th and final Wales union appearance on the day Fiji knocked them out of the 2007 World Cup.

Thomas is struggling to return from a groin injury for Crusaders' re-arranged Super League match against Harlequins in Neath on Friday.

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Wales play two Italy friendlies in October, then defend their European Cup when they face Scotland, Ireland and France.

The winners of the European Cup will earn a place in the 2011 Four Nations against England, Australia and New Zealand.

Thomas, who also captained the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand in 2005, is four months into an 18-month deal with the Crusaders, who are pushing for a place in the eight-team Super League play-offs.

He has also played for Bridgend, Celtic Warriors and spent three years in France with Toulouse, where he won the 2005 Heineken Cup.

Another of the 15 Crusaders in the squad, Jordan James, lifted the European Cup as Wales captain last year.

"As soon as we finish with the Crusaders, it will be straight into the Wales training camp," said James.

"I'm hoping we can build on the great achievements of last year.

"It's a strong squad, the players who played last year would have benefited from that experience, and there are also some new faces in there.

"It's another step forward for us and hopefully we can win a place in next year's Four Nations."

Wales' 48-man squad: Andy Bracek, Matt James (Barrow Raiders); Byron Smith (Batley Bulldogs); Craig Kopczack (Bradford Bulls); Mark Lennon (Burleigh Bears); Gareth Dean (Carcassonne); James Evans (Castleford Tigers); Chris Beasley, Ian Webster (Central Queensland Comets); Anthony Blackwood, Ben Flower, Chris Davies, Dafydd Carter, Elliot Kear, Gareth Thomas, Gil Dudson, Jack Pring, Jamie Murphy, Jordan James, Lee Williams, Lewis Mills, Lloyd White, Luke Dyer, Rhodri Lloyd (Crusaders); Ross Divorty (Featherstone Rovers); Matt Barron (Gateshead Thunder); Sean Penkywicz (Halifax); David Mills (Hull KR); Rhys Griffiths (Leeds Met); Owain Brown (Leigh East); Neil Budworth (Mackay Cutters); Aled James, Andrew Gay, Ashley Bateman, Christiaan Roets, Geraint Davies, Joe Burke, Lewis Reece, Steve Parry (South Wales Scorpions); Jacob Emmitt (St Helens); Ian Watson, Phil Joseph (Swinton Lions); Ben Evans, Rhys Evans, Rhys Williams (Warrington Wolves); Ben Davies (Wigan Warriors); Matt Thomas (London Skolars); Mark Roberts (Unattached).

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see also
Harlequins clash crucial - Harris
03 Aug 10 |  Crusaders
Wales plan autumn Test schedule
26 Jul 10 |  Rugby League
Wales given 2013 World Cup spot
07 May 10 |  Rugby League
Blues back Thomas on code switch
05 Mar 10 |  Cardiff Blues
Thomas makes switch to Crusaders
05 Mar 10 |  Crusaders
Thomas' 2007 World Cup trauma
05 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Thomas considers coaching future
08 Jan 10 |  Welsh
Ex-Lion Thomas reveals he is gay
19 Dec 09 |  Welsh
Welsh convert XIII
10 May 10 |  Rugby League
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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Sky Sports Noble - We must push on - 34 hrs ago Thomas set to become a dual-code international - 41 hrs ago
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