Ruddock outlines Thomas' duty

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The Independent Online

Mike Ruddock, the Wales coach, has revealed the qualities he believes are required to lead the national team - and, presumably, he sees them all in his new captain, Gareth Thomas.

Thomas, installed as the new captain last week, has been inspiring the French club Toulouse to great things, but yesterday he was undertaking his first official duty as captain. He and Ruddock were at the Millennium Stadium to launch the new Wales shirt yesterday, and the coach emphasised what he expects from Thomas.

"The Wales captaincy role has evolved over a number of years to place a whole array of demands on the bearer," Ruddock said. "You need to have true leadership ability to go with broad shoulders, the respect of those around you, raw ability and innate tactical awareness - and that's just on the pitch. Off the pitch, in the modern game, the commercial and media aspects of the job are just as important a factor as everything else."

The former Wales captain, Rob Howley, has suffered a setback in his recovery from wrist surgery. The Wasps scrum-half said he was "absolutely devastated" after a comeback was put on hold until next year.

It is bound to raise questions about 33-year-old Howley's playing future, while also casting a cloud over his prospects of making the Lions tour of New Zealand next summer.

"I had a CT scan last week, and the scan revealed the fracture had not made union," said Howley, who has not played for Wasps since May. "When I had the cast taken off, the doctors said six to eight weeks before I could play again. However, this setback means I may only return in January or February.

"I am absolutely devastated, and I will be seeing another specialist next Monday. All I can do is continue the intensive treatment and hope and pray for the best."

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