11th October 2010, 09:59
Alfie calls on Welsh support for Ireland game
After scoring a try per game in his first two Wales games...
After scoring a try per game in his first two Wales Rugby League international appearances, Gareth Thomas is looking forward to getting back to his native South Wales this Sunday when Wales take on Ireland at The Gnoll (kick-off 2pm).
And he has called on the Welsh public to give our national side maximum support in one of Wales' most important home Rugby League matches in our history.
The Irish encounter is the second match in Wales' quest to retain the European Cup and qualify for one of their biggest tournaments ever - the 2011 Four Nations where they would take on England, Australia and New Zealand.
Wales had an outstanding first match in the tournament on Sunday when they hammered Scotland 60-22 to leap to the top of the four-team group on points difference from France who beat Ireland 58-24 on Saturday.
Thomas scored a try in that game, following on from his ninth minute score against Italy last Wednesday in his first Welsh Rugby League appearance.
Now, after a couple of false starts, Alfie can't wait to return to The Gnoll for the must-win game against Ireland on Sunday.
"I should have played at The Gnoll a couple of times with Crusaders," he said. "We were due to take on Harlequins at Easter but the game was called off, then I was injured when Crusaders played twice there later in the season.
"But I was there watching and I was impressed with the atmosphere at the ground and from the support from the South Wales public. The fans showed that when the Crusaders came down that they'll come out and watch so it's great that we're taking our national team back down to South Wales.
"I've played at The Gnoll many times for my beloved Bridgend RFC and for Cardiff. It'll be great to be back there especially as my parents were due to come up to Wrexham for the Italy game when it was initially called off. They'll be there watching the Ireland game, along with a lot of my family and close friends."
Thomas hopes that another good performance for Wales this Sunday will elevate recognition of the sport in the Principality and is calling on the Welsh public to come to The Gnoll to cheer them on.
"Hopefully when we take on Ireland in Neath on Sunday, we'll put in a good performance and it'll spread the word about our game. The European Cup is important to us and we need everyone's support for it, from the fans to the media here in Wales.
"When Crusaders were doing so well, it amazed me that when you turned the TV on and they'd cover everything from table tennis to tiddlywinks, the Crusaders were lucky to get a mention most weeks. Rugby League has a battle for recognition in Wales but we can change that this month by doing well in the European Cup.
"It's a big tournament and everyone in the team is proud to play for Wales. For a lot of reasons it'll be nice to get the recognition but if we're successful then more people in the media will notice us and more will come to watch us."
Advance tickets for Wales' only home game in the tournament against Ireland at The Gnoll in Neath on Sunday 17th October (kick-off 2pm) priced £4 for juniors and £8 for adults can be bought by going to www.walesrugbyleague.co.uk. These prices will go up on the day to £5 and £10 respectively so please buy in advance, with no booking fee, to reap the savings.