Former Cardiff Blues hooker Thomas Rhys Thomas will return to the club next season after six years away as he joins the backroom staff as an academy skills coach.
The 36-year-old will work under newly appointed Cardiff Blues Academy Manager Gruff Rees, assisting with the two U16 sides, the U18s and the newly created U23 teams, alongside Duane Goodfield and Richie Rees, former team-mates who are now also coaches.
Despite being a Cynon Valley boy, Thomas was a member of the Newport RFC U21 setup when David Young brought him to Cardiff RFC in 2003, where he impressed enough to earn a contract when the club became Cardiff Blues that summer.
He went on to make 182 Cardiff Blues appearances over nine seasons, and was part of the sides that won the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2009, and the European Challenge Cup in 2010, before moving on at the end of the 2011/12 campaign.
After one season re-uniting with Dai Young at Wasps, Thomas returned to Wales with the Dragons. Over four seasons he made 70 appearances for the Rodney Parade-based side, captaining the side on a number of occasions before hanging up his boots in 2017.
Bernard Jackman added TRT to his coaching staff for last season, where he worked on the contact area with the Dragons senior squad, but with a backroom re-shuffle taking place at Ystrad Mynach this summer, Thomas has been snapped up by Cardiff Blues to pass his wealth of knowledge on to the region’s youngsters.
Speaking to the Cardiff Blues official website about his return, Thomas said, “I knew that any opportunity to come back to the Cardiff Blues would be special, and an offer that I couldn’t refuse.
“It’s a club that is close to my heart, having been born and raised in the region and spent the majority of my playing career here. It feels like I’m coming home.
“The direction the club is heading towards is exciting, on the back of a hugely successful campaign, and I can’t wait to work with the region’s academy system, as there are some really promising talent coming through.
“As a coach, I’m still young and still learning, and am looking forward to working alongside talented coaches such as Duane Goodfield and Richie Rees, both of whom I know from my previous time here.”