Gareth Thomas signs new Crusaders deal

Gareth Thomas has been a successful convert from rugby union to rugby league
Gareth Thomas has been a successful convert from rugby union to rugby league

Wales dual-code international Gareth Thomas has signed a new one-year deal with Super League side Crusaders.

The 36-year-old had indicated he would retire at the end of this season after extending his contract last August.

But the announcement means Thomas, who won 100 caps for Wales in union and made his Test league debut in October, will remain with the Welsh club until at least the end of the 2012 season.

"I am really excited to be signing for another year at Crusaders," he said.

"This is only my second season as a rugby league player and it is only now that I am beginning to really learn and enjoy the game for what it is.

"I feel to stop that process now would be a real shame, so re-signing for another season was an easy decision for me from a rugby perspective.

"To stay on with the Crusaders, who are a Welsh rugby team with big ambitions, is something I am proud of and I am really pleased to be a part of those ambitions and to do my part to help the club and its profile grow.

"I've had a great two seasons with the Crusaders so far, it has enabled me to play and captain Wales again and I can't wait for next year."

Thomas has made 13 appearances for the Crusaders this season, scoring four tries and blossoming since moving to centre.

The Bridgend product captained Wales to a 12-11 win away to France in October that clinched the European Cup - booking their place in the 2011 Four Nations tournament, where they will face super powers England, New Zealand and Australia.

Crusaders head coach Iestyn Harris believes Thomas has proved a lot of the sceptics wrong since joining the Crusaders.

"I am thrilled that Gareth has decided to extend his stay with the Crusaders," Harris said.

"A lot of eyebrows were raised when we signed Gareth but we knew we were getting an outstanding player. He is a superb athlete who has worked incredibly hard since coming here and he looks like he's been playing rugby league all his life.

"Gareth has been one of our top performers this season and his hunger and desire to succeed has been evident in his displays on the field.

"His experience has been invaluable to the squad and everyone at the club has been impressed with his attitude and work ethic. Gareth has the enthusiasm and energy of a 20-year-old and I hope that continues to rub off on the rest of the squad.

"There is a really positive vibe around the club at the moment. We are tying key players down to new contracts and we're already going through the recruitment process for next season.

"I'm excited about the long-term future of the Crusaders and I'm delighted that Gareth has decided to remain a part of that."

Crusaders have won four of their 17 Super League games this season and are currently bottom of the table and four points adrift of Wakefield after being handed a four-point deduction by the Rugby Football League for breaching insolvency rules last year.

Their next match is on Friday night at the Racecourse Ground against sixth-placed Leeds Rhinos.

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