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   WWW.RLFANS.COM • View topic - Gareth Thomas has agreed new 1 year deal with Crusaders

Gareth Thomas has decided to prolong his rugby league career by signing a new one-year contract with Crusaders.

The new deal means that the 36-year old will remain with Wales' only Super League club until the end of the 2012 season.

Thomas' decision to extend his stay gives the Crusaders a huge boost as many expected him to hang up his boots at the end of the current campaign.

He has been a key part of Crusaders' head coach Iestyn Harris' plans this season. Thomas has made 13 appearances for the club this season, scoring four tries and blossoming since moving to centre.

Thomas has developed into a fine rugby league player since sensationally switching codes in March 2010 following a glittering rugby union career. He has become an ambassador for the game and is thrilled to extend his stay with the Crusaders.

"I am really excited to be signing for another year at the Crusaders," Thomas 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 holds the joint record for most international caps for his country having made 100 appearances for Wales RU. He was capped three times by the British and Irish Lions rugby union side during their 2005 tour against New Zealand and also captained the side.

He made 13 appearances for Crusaders during his first season, scoring three tries. He also joined an elite band of players by becoming a dual code international last autumn after he was named in Iestyn Harris' Wales squad. He captained them in the final game against France as they retained the European Cup to qualify for the 2011 Four Nations.

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

"I am thrilled that Gareth has decided to extend his stay with the Crusaders," he 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 Chief Executive Rod Findlay added: "This is great news for the Crusaders.

"We spoke at great length with Gareth about signing a new contract with the club. He has been a model professional since joining the club and his performances, particularly this season, have been fantastic.

"He has helped improve the profile of not only the club, but Rugby League in general. But first and foremost, he is a quality rugby player who we're very pleased to have on board until at least the end of the 2012 season. Gareth still has a lot to give as a player and we're pleased that he has decided to do that with the Crusaders."
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