Thomas ready to play 'on one leg' to help Wales

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The Independent Online

Gareth Thomas is prepared to play "on one leg" to help Wales reach the 2011 Four Nations Series.

That is the prize at stake in today's Alitalia European Cup decider against France in Albi. The Welsh and the French won their first two matches against Scotland and Ireland to set up a winner-takes-all contest in their final group fixture.

Thomas, who won 100 caps in rugby union, will be making his fourth appearance for Iestyn Harris' team, despite failing to fully recover from the groin strain that curtailed his debut Super League season with the Crusaders.

"I'm still kind of playing on one leg and shouldn't really be back," he admitted. "But the chance of playing for Wales was too good to miss. It will be massive for Wales if we win. To qualify for the Four Nations is a massive incentive.

"I've a couple of weeks off before we start pre-season with the Crusaders so I'll use that time to rest up and get fresh for it."

Today's decider is a repeat of the 2005 final in Carcassone which France won 38-16 and playing in front of a large partisan crowd means Bobbie Goulding's men are firm favourites to repeat that success. "The odds are stacked against us," admitted Thomas.

"I don't really understand why they had all their games at home but the chance of playing against England, New Zealand and Australia is mouth-watering and it would do wonders for rugby league in Wales." The French have home advantage thanks to a lucrative television contract.

Harris makes one change to the side that pipped Ireland 31-30 in Neath, recalling Crusaders full-back Elliot Kear.

The wooden spoon will be decided tomorrow when Scotland meet Ireland in the final group match in Dublin. Scotland coach Steve McCormack has made three changes to the side that lost 26-12 to France, omitting Danny Brough, Jon Steel and Jamie Benn.

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