Friday 6 December 2019

Welsh don't fear Croker

Jonathan Thomas insists Croke Park holds no fears for Wales ahead of their Six Nations clash with Ireland on Saturday.

The Wales forward reckons Ireland have lost a large slice of home advantage since switching venues while Lansdowne is rebuilt.

Thomas (27) was part of the Wales team humiliated in 2004 and 2006 at Lansdowne but won the Triple Crown at Croke Park two years ago.

He said: "I didn't find Croke Park as intimidating as Lansdowne Road. It's a great sporting facility and there's obviously history there for the Irish but it was never nice to play as opposition at Lansdowne.

"It was only half the size of Croke Park but was incredibly intimidating. There always seemed to be a howling wind, it was noisy and the crowd were really close. I went to Lansdowne twice and was badly beaten both times but we have fond memories of winning at Croke Park and that can make a difference.

"It's not going to win us the game, but it does make a difference if you have good memories of a certain place. It puts you in a positive frame of mind."

Warren Gatland names his team today and Thomas could be shifted to the second row after Gloucester's Gareth Delve was called into the squad.

Luke Charteris is also pushing for the vacant lock jersey but skipper Ryan Jones is still battling an on-going calf strain.

Lions hooker Matthew Rees looks set to play his first game of the championship after recovering from a groin injury.

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