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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 08:53 GMT
Thomas to lead with intelligence
Wales captain Gareth Thomas
Thomas will equal Gareth Llewellyn's Wales cap record on Saturday
Wales captain Gareth Thomas says it will be all about the "top two inches" in Saturday's clash with England.

He applies that to the centre battle with Mathew Tait and Mike Catt - and also to dealings with officials.

"I'll have five watches strapped on," joked Thomas, involved in Wales' choice to kick to touch with the last play of the game in the loss to Italy in Rome.

"You can bet that I'll be specifically asking the referee exactly how long is left before any similar decisions."

SIX NATIONS BLOG
BBC Wales' Sean Davies

Thomas, who led Wales to the Grand Slam in 2005 and took the Lions captaincy after Brian O'Driscoll's injury, regained the national armband this week after Stephen Jones withdrew with injury.

It will be the 32-year-old's first start of this season's RBS Six Nations, having been banned for the first three games and come on as a substitute in the 23-20 defeat at the Stadio Flaminio.

The Toulouse utility back, who is moving to Cardiff Blues next season, is already Wales' record try scorer and is set to equal Gareth Llewellyn's Wales record of 92 caps when he leads his country out at the Millennium Stadium.

I feel that we've got into thinking too much about the opposition and what their strengths are

Gareth Thomas

With James Hook taking Jones' place at fly-half and Thomas coming in at 12, many Wales fans are pinning their hopes of avoiding the Championship whitewash on the captain's physical centre partnership with Tom Shanklin exposing the lightweight England duo.

"I've played a lot of rugby at 12, and my last full game of rugby was there for Toulouse against London Irish in January," Thomas told BBC Sport Wales.

"That was also in direct opposition to Catt. He's a great player, as he showed in the win over France last week, but also a great character and a good bloke.

GARETH THOMAS
Born: 25.7.74, Ogwr, Wales
Position: Centre, wing, full-back
Clubs: Bridgend (twice), Cardiff, Celtic Warriors, Toulouse
Wales debut: v Japan 27.05.95
Wales caps: 91 (37 tries)
Lions caps: 3 (1 try)

"People have talked about our size advantage in the centre, but it's more about the size of your ticker.

"Size can be important in rugby, but if you've got the will to put a man down you will do it.

"It's more about the top two inches and outwitting people, that's where you win games.

"We're a win away from being a good team and getting the confidence to be a good enough team to go out there and perform week-in, week-out.

"I feel that we've got into thinking too much about the opposition and what their strengths are, we need to think more about ourselves and what we can offer."

BBC Sport columnist Brent Cockbain says that Thomas will bring a very different captaincy style to Stephen Jones.

Everyone looks up to Gareth and he's a real leader, that's for sure

Brent Cockbain

"Gareth's a bit more hands-on than Stephen, who tends to let people have their own space and do their own thing," the Wales lock said in his latest column.

"Gareth's a leader up front who likes to take control, as I know from many games together with Wales and the Celtic Warriors.

"He's got the experience and knows when to say things and when to shut up.

"He's been around the game so long that he can judge the mood of the players. Everyone looks up to him and he's a real leader, that's for sure.

"It's great to have him in there and as a fall-back captain it's a fantastic option, he can make a huge difference."


SEE ALSO
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Brent Cockbain Q&A
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Cueto replaces Lewsey for England
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02 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
BBC Wales Sport coverage
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Six Nations team guides
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