Celebrity Big Brother: Ex-Wales star Gareth Thomas in house

Gareth Thomas
Image caption Gareth Thomas played rugby league and union during a long career

Former Wales and Lions rugby captain Gareth Thomas has joined Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother house.

The union and league international, who retired from the game in October, surprised the sporting world in 2009 when he revealed he was gay.

His life caught the interest of Hollywood star Mickey Rourke, who is interested in playing Thomas in a film biopic.

Thomas' manager said the rugby star was nervous ahead of entering the house.

The new series of Celebrity Big Brother started on Thursday at 21:00 GMT.

Thomas' house mates include Hollywood star Michael Madsen, X-Factor's Frankie Cocozza, former EastEnders actor Natalie Cassidy, singer Andrew Stone and Playboy models and twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon.

Also taking part is Natasha Giggs, the sister-in-law of Manchester United's former Wales international Ryan Giggs. Mrs Giggs married the footballer's brother Rhodri in Las Vegas in 2010.

Ahead of entering the house, Thomas said: "I'm very competitive. Anything I do I try to win."

He also confessed to having a fiery temper, but said entering the house was all about creating a good atmosphere, and he was going in there to make friends.

Thomas' manager Emanuele Palladino said: "I'm really looking forward to watching Alfie in the house, as I think most of Wales will be.

"When the call came he was hesitant at first, but realised actually it would be a lot of fun and why not.

"The timing is great so soon after retiring, and it gives him a platform for people to get to know who he is and his voice, outside of the rugby pitch and the sports pages."

Mr Palladino added: "I know he has been nervous over the last few days, but I am sure he will do himself proud in there."

Thomas, 37, who is nicknamed Alfie, won 100 caps for Wales during his union career.

He switched codes from rugby union to Wrexham-based Super League club Crusaders nearly three years ago.

He retired four days before he was due to play for the Wales rugby league team against England in the Four Nations in October.

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

Surprise winner

Thomas made his rugby union Test debut against Japan in 1995 and went on to captain Wales to their first Grand Slam in 27 years in 2005.

Celebrity Big Brother ran on Channel 4 for 11 years before it was dropped by the broadcaster in 2010.

In 2011, Channel 5 paid production company Endemol more than £100m for rights to screen the reality show.

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty was crowned the surprise winner in September last year.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites