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Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas during training

Thomas: ‘We’re in a good place’

Ospreys prop Gareth Thomas is hunting down skipper Jac Morgan in the race to be Wales’ top tackler at the World Cup.

The 30-year-old from Newcastle Emlyn is Wales second highest tackler to date in France behind ‘Captain Jac’ with 37 and could creep ahead in the final Pool C game against Georgia in Nantes with Morgan sitting out the contest.

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To do that he needs to surpass Morgan’s superb tally of 44 tackles so far in the competition. Wales need only one point from the game to top their pool and Thomas will be hoping to build on the momentum so far in wins over Fiji, Portugal and Australia.

“We’ve come a long way since the start of the summer, but we know this weekend will be a big test for us as well,” said Thomas.

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“We want to keep going the momentum we’ve had over the last few weeks. We’re trying to hold on to that, to push and grow as a team as we go forward to the quarter finals.

“We are a completely different team to what we were last year. It’s the time we have spent together and amount of work we have put in together.

“You can’t fault the amount of effort that has gone in this summer, and the confidence within the team at the minute is something I haven’t felt before. We are in a good place.”

It was a year ago that Thomas packed down against the Georgians in Cardiff and ended up on the wrong side of a 13-12 scoreline. That game became the last for former c coach Wayne Pivac and heralded the return of Warren Gatland.

While Wales are unbeaten in their pool matches in Frane, the Georgians are yet to pick up a win. They lost to Australia in their opening game, drew with Portugal and then went down 17-12 to Fiji last weekend.

They certainly impressed against the Fijians and Thomas is expecting another tough set-piece challenge in Nantes.

“With the set-piece stuff, we know they are going to come strong in the scrum, that’s won them the game against us in the autumn last year. They are such a physical side,” admitted Thomas.

Fellow prop Tomas Francis is another huge respecter of the Georgian pack and is getting ready for another tough day at the office.

“Their set-piece is in their DNA, it’s what they’re known for. As a front-five forward that’s a good test for me, same as South Africa,” said Francis, now at his third World Cup.

“They’re not going to disappoint and it’s exciting to be involved in these games. We feel as a group we can build on good set-piece performances against Fiji and Australia.

“The decisions don’t always go your way, and hopefully we have changed the perception of a few referees and the people above and we’ll get the rub of the green now. We turned it round against Australia and this is going to be a bigger test, so it’s exciting for the front five.”

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