Thomas steps up for leading role

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The Independent Online

In the fallout from the shattering defeat to the All Blacks the Lions will have to make a number of changes for the second in Wellington. One thing though is certain - Gareth Thomas's place in the team is safe.

In the fallout from the shattering defeat to the All Blacks the Lions will have to make a number of changes for the second in Wellington. One thing though is certain - Gareth Thomas's place in the team is safe.

Yesterday, the Wales full-back was nominated by Sir Clive Woodward to take over the role of captaincy. Thomas, who was one of only four Welshmen to start against the All Blacks, joins a roll of honour of threequarters from Wales who have captained the Lions in New Zealand - Bleddyn Williams in 1950, David Watkins in 1966, John Dawes in 1971 and Phil Bennett in 1977. Dawes is the only man to emerge a winner.

While regarding the role as a rare honour, Thomas should also be aware that in receiving the captaincy he is taking over a chalice that is laced with arsenic. Another defeat on Saturday and the game is up.

Thomas, with 83 caps, is Wales' third-highest capped player and the leading try-scorer with 35. He was appointed as Wales captain at the start of last season but during their push to the Grand Slam in this year's Six Nationshad to be replaced as leader by Michael Owen after breaking his thumb in the game against France.

Thomas was ordered last week to stand trial over an alleged incident in a French night-club in 2003.

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