Rugby Union: Thomas out to Master Regional Rugby

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Byline: Simon Thomas

CAERPHILLY'S Justin Thomas says he would love to play regional rugby next season - provided he can keep up the day job.

Welsh international Thomas - who returns to his former club Cardiff for a Premiership encounter tonight - currently combines his role as a part-time rugby player with a full-time job as a schoolteacher at Bassaleg Comprehensive, in Newport. He would be a useful acquisition for one of the five regions, given his ability to slot in at either fly-half or full-back, and he'd be keen to give it a go.

``If I could work a professional contract around my teaching I would love it,'' he said.

``It would be great to play high-intensity rugby week-in, week-out, because those are the games you love to be playing.

``I am only 29 and I've got plenty of years left in me yet.

``But I am enjoying my teaching at the moment and really getting stuck into it. I wouldn't want to give that up.

``I realised a couple of years ago that rugby wasn't going to pay my mortgage and I needed to concentrate on a profession outside the game.

``Looking at it, Caerphilly players are the ones in a good position. We are the boys that have got jobs to fall back on.''

The job for the Cheesemen tonight is to try and claim a third Premiership win of the season that would significantly improve their chances of not finishing bottom of the pile.

They are currently propping up the table, three points adrift of Ebbw Vale, but with two games in hand.

Coach Mark Ring, who, like Thomas, returns to his former Arms Park stamping ground tonight, said, ``We want to try to avoid finishing bottom of the Premiership. That's a big target for us.''

Parker Pen Shield finalists Caerphilly have been boosted by the return of club captain Chris Ferris, who has recovered from a knee ligament problem.

He takes over at hooker from Feoa Vunipola, while Ffion McLoughlin replaces Owain Ashman at full-back, as Ring makes just two changes from the side that faced Petrarca Padova in the Shield semi-final last Saturday. …