Thomas joined Wasps over the summer, having spent his entire career at the Blues and racking up the all-time appearance record for the region over a ten year period.
However, the hooker says that he has tried to remove any emotion from the fixture, and will not look at the game as anything other than just another game until after the final whistle.
“If I’m honest, as soon it came out on the fixture list I just thought happy days, but the reality is that you just want to be playing well enough to be picked against them. I was excited that we were paired against them but you have to forget about it, take each week as it comes and as soon as last weekend’s game was over I could get excited again and massively focus on Friday night.”
“There’s no doubt that it was difficult to leave the Blues. The thing that made it a bit easier for me was that there were a lot of us leaving at the same time. A lot of my closest friends from my time there all left the Blues at the same time but of course it was difficult. I’m really excited to go back, especially to The Arms Park. It’s going to be great for my family but we need to get the job done first and afterwards I can enjoy being back there."
“It does feel as though it is still my region. I was born there, at my local club, Abercynon and back then you strive to play for the Blues and then for your nation. I am going to be a Cardiff Blues fan for a long time to come, as is my son. Even when I was a kid I was a Cardiff fan so of course you want to see them go well, just in every game other than against us! They have been very unlucky in some of their recent games. I don’t think there is a lot wrong with their game, they just haven’t had much luck and they will be looking to set that right this Friday.”
“I heard through the grapevine that they are going to play a strong team, I still have a lot of friends down there so I hear that kind of thing. The fact that there are a few boys here with history with the Blues will just add to their desire to beat us and we know full well that we will be in for a tough game on Friday evening.”
Since his move to London over the summer, ‘TR’ has quickly gained a reputation as a leader within the squad. At 30 years of age, with 27 international caps for Wales behind him, that's no surprise, but the speed with which he has settled into the squad has been no mean feat.
His battle for the number 2 shirt with 24-year-old Tom Lindsay has been one that has epitomised the depth Dai Young has enjoyed in his squad this year when contrasted with last year, with both players fighting for the shirt every week. Thomas says that he has enjoyed that battle for a starting place and says that it has benefitted both parties, as well as the Club as a whole.
“I have very fortunate, or unfortunate however you look at it, that whichever club I have been at I have had a good battle for the starting shirt and here is no different. Hopefully that is because Dai has equal faith in both of us so he has that option between the two. Tom and I get along well, we throw together, we do a lot of extras together, I have introduced him to Costa coffee when he wasn’t into coffee before and now he is drinking more of it than me! I think that it is a good thing for both of us as we can both be fresh for games. He is a strong ball carrier and I am a bit of a cart horse really so both of us benefit from that!”
Key to any hooker’s game is the lineout and at Wasps Thomas has joined up with Marco Wentzel, who is renowned for his work in that area. Despite it clearly paining him to do so, Rhys is very complimentary about Wentzel’s abilities.
“I don’t really want to say this and I would never say this to his face because he isn’t short of any confidence, but he is up there with the best lineout leaders around. He takes a lot of responsibility for the lineouts and if there are any sort of issues he will always back himself and throw to himself.”
The Welshman has also had to contend with playing rugby in London while his family have had to remain in Cardiff, where his wife, Lucy, is completing her LPC at Cardiff University. Despite the obvious difficulties involved in that, Thomas says that he and his wife have done their upmost to work around it.
“I am really enjoying my rugby and it has been very different living up in London. My wife is doing her LPC so she has had to stay in Cardiff with the kids, which has been awkward but we make it work. She comes up a lot and I go back home a lot. Dai has been very good to me as far as travelling is concerned. Without sounding too ruthless, when I am up here I can fully concentrate on my rugby. When I am on the M4 coming this way I have my rugby head on and when I am going back the other way I have got my family head on.”
Last weekend the side lost narrowly to Saracens at Welford Road, but Thomas says that the squad have taken the positives from that game ahead of Friday night’s fixture.
“It was a credit to the squad that we were disappointed after the game. A few of the senior players who were here last year said that coming away with a bonus point at Saracens last year, we would have probably taken it before the game, whereas this season we expect more and we felt like it wasn’t good enough. We had the game there for us to take at half time and if we had been able to assert more control on the game through the middle period we would have come away with a win."
London Wasps return to Adams Park next weekend where they will face Worcester Warriors in round two of the LV=Cup. To secure your place call 0844 225 2990 or book online here.