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Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010

Blues boss Young backs Gareth Thomas' Crusaders move

Gareth Thomas is hugely experienced in rugby union
Gareth Thomas is hugely experienced in rugby union

Cardiff Blues director of rugby Dai Young says that Gareth Thomas' cross-code switch has his blessing.

Ex-Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Thomas, 35, was officially unveiled by rugby league side Crusaders on Friday as their newest player.

Thomas' Blues contract ran until May but the Welsh region has released him early so he can play in Super League.

"I'm pleased for Gareth because he always wants that next big challenge," Young said.

"He's done everything in rugby union and his consistency over the years has been amazing.

"It'll be a big challenge for him, it's difficult, but it's a bit easier for a back to change than a forward and he's got all the attributes to make a success of it, there are no doubts in my mind."

Young knows the lure of the 13-man game, having changed codes himself as a player when the former prop joined Leeds in 1990, before being snapped up the following season by Salford.


"If I wanted to be a selfish coach I could have kept until the end of his contract [in May], but Gareth asked to be released to take up the challenge he wanted and I think we owed him that," Young added.

"His profile will be a big benefit to the Crusaders, he can be a big marketing tool, but his mind is on the rugby.

"He's a bit of a one-off larger-than-life character and I'm sure that he'll enjoy the next challenge."

Thomas is hugely experienced in rugby union, having played for Bridgend, Celtic Warriors, Toulouse and the Blues, mostly at wing or centre.

He also captained Wales to their first Grand Slam in 27 years in 2005 - he is the only player to have reached 100 Wales caps - then took over the Lions leadership in New Zealand during the same year.

Although he will have to learn a new game, Blues team-mate Tom Shanklin is sure that Thomas will thrive in Super League.

"I'm thrilled for him, he's done everything there is to do in union and this is a new challenge for him. I'll definitely be watching his games," Shanklin said.

"He does love a challenge and I'm sure he'll shine."

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see also
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
Veteran Thomas wins Young plaudit
23 Aug 09 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
RaboDirect Pro12
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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