Wales dual-code international rugby player Gareth Thomas has announced today his retirement from all forms of rugby with immediate effect meaning that he will miss out on Wales’ Four Nations campaign.
Thomas said: “I have listened and discussed this decision with many of my family and close friends. My mind has told me that the time to retire is now. If you can’t give 100 percent to rugby then you can’t do it justice. This is a sad day, but I know that my time has come to an end as a player. My passion for the amazing game will never end or leave me however.
“I do not know what lies ahead, but I feel the challenge of something different excites me more than another year of rugby.
“I would like to thank everyone I have been involved with in the sport. I could not have achieved it without any of them. I have great memories and great friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. I leave knowing I have done everything in my power to be the best person and player I could have ever been. And finally, I thank my parents for all their support and help throughout my career.”
Wales Rugby League head coach Iestyn Harris said: “I’ve worked with Gareth for just under two years and the work and desire that he put into his transition from Union to League was a testament to his supreme professionalism. Even though he switched at a mature age his enthusiasm for information made his switch a huge success.
“Gareth’s honesty and reasoning behind his decision were unselfish, it would have been easy for him to play the Wales internationals for his personal gain but he didn’t want to take an opportunity off somebody else in our squad. I’m sure Alfie will be a huge success in whatever comes next in his life’s journey, he certainly has the best wishes of myself and everybody involved in Wales Rugby League.”
Wales have called up second row forward Geraint Davies as replacement for Gareth Thomas in the Gillette Four Nations squad.
The fluent Welsh speaker, who has co-presented Rugby League programmes on S4C in the past, made his international debut for Wales against England in 2008, the first of his seven caps, scoring his sole test try against Ireland in Pontypridd in 2009.
Currently without a club since finishing a one-year contract with Limoux Grizzlies in June this year after helping them to the French Grand Final, Davies started his professional Rugby League career with Celtic Crusaders, scoring seven tries in 47 appearances. He also played for South Wales Scorpions in 2010.
Wales coach Iestyn Harris said: “We’re really pleased that Geraint Davies is now officially in the 24-man Wales squad, he is full of enthusiasm for Wales Rugby League. He was our first reserve in case anyone did drop out and he played well in the friendly against Ireland last Saturday. He, like the rest of the squad, will all be in contention for selection against England in Leigh this Saturday, a game that we’re all looking forward to.”
Davies said: “I’m honoured more than anything. I was disappointed to have missed out in the first place but Iestyn made that call and he told me to go away and work on my game. The call came a lot sooner than I thought. I would like to congratulate Gareth Thomas in his career, he’s someone I’ve looked up to since I was young and he’ll go down as one of the greatest rugby players in Wales.
“I feel that I can bring passion to the team. I’m a very passionate Welshman. I thought I gave a good account of myself against Ireland at the weekend. I know it’ll be difficult to get in this team but whether I get in or not, I’ll be supporting the boys and supporting Wales.”