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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 January 2007, 20:28 GMT
Thomas plans end to Test career
Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas is Wales' record try scorer and has won 90 caps
Gareth Thomas has announced that he will retire from international rugby after this year's Rugby World Cup.

The former Wales captain, 32, who will join Cardiff Blues from Toulouse next season, has won 90 caps for his country and holds the Wales try-scoring record.

He also led the 2005 British and Irish Lions in New Zealand after an injury to Brian O'Driscoll, winning three caps.

"It's probably going to be my last Six Nations so I want to make sure it's a good one," he told BBC Wales Scrum V.

SIX NATIONS BLOG
BBC Wales Sport presenter Gareth Lewis

"I don't want to bow out before the World Cup. If I'm playing well enough, if I'm selected to go obviously I'll go, I'd love to represent my country in the World Cup.

"But that's a long way down the line and my priority first and foremost now is playing well."

Thomas must first face a European Rugby Cup disciplinary panel in Dublin on Thursday after an incident in Toulouse's Heineken Cup match with Ulster.

Thomas is alleged to have engaged in "aggressive exchanges with spectators", while team-mate Trevor Brennan faces a charge of assaulting an Ulster supporter.

While Brennan's charge is by far the more serious, Thomas still runs the risk of a suspension that could rule him out of part or all of the Six Nations.

Let's not get carried away with how good Ireland are, let's talk about how good we are

Gareth Thomas

But either on the pitch or off it, 'Alfie' has proved to be a galvanising influence in the Wales camp.

His rallying call for Sunday's championship opener against an Ireland side tipped by many as favourites is unequivocal.

"Let's not get carried away with how good Ireland are and talking about Ireland, let's talk about how good we are as a squad," Thomas added.

"Let's build ourselves up so when we go into it we're confident and not worrying about their players.

"We're good enough now to talk ourselves up."

Thomas started his professional rugby career with Bridgend, signing from his beloved Pencoed, leading the Ravens to the Welsh league title in the last year before the move to regional rugby.

Like the majority of players from Bridgend and Pontypridd RFCs Thomas then played for the Celtic Warriors, but had already agreed to join French giants Toulouse before the Warriors were disbanded.

Thomas broke Ieuan Evans' long-standing Wales try record in the 2004 Six Nations, scoring his 34th international try in the 44-10 win over Italy.

The 6ft 2in player, equally comfortable at wing, full-back or centre had often been seen as something of a maverick despite his undoubted on-field talent.

But in September 2004, the then Wales coach Mike Ruddock handed the Wales captaincy to Thomas.

A Grand Slam, Wales' first for 27 years, followed in 2005 under Thomas' captaincy, even though a broken thumb ruled him out of the latter part of the tournament.

A low point came a year later during the controversial departure of Ruddock from the Wales job.

Shortly after an appearance on the same Scrum V programme on which he has just revealed his plans to end his Test days, Thomas suffered a career-threatening mini-stroke.

He missed the remainder of that season, but has worked his way back to fitness to start afresh this term.

Although the captaincy passed to fly-half Stephen Jones under new coach Gareth Jenkins, Thomas continues to lead from the front in his own indomitable style.

SEE ALSO
Blues seek early Thomas release
21 Jan 07 |  Cardiff Blues
Thomas rejects retirement reports
17 Mar 06 |  Internationals
Thomas ruled out for Six Nations
22 Feb 06 |  Internationals
Thomas feared he was going to die
21 Feb 06 |  Internationals
Thomas made Wales captain
29 Sep 04 |  Internationals
Thomas humbled by record
28 Mar 04 |  Internationals


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