Ben Thomas admits his breakthrough campaign with Cardiff Blues has already gone beyond his wildest dreams.
The academy graduate, who penned his first professional deal with the region over the summer, has established himself in the number 12 jersey for the region over the last few weeks, starting four consecutive games alongside Samoan international Rey Lee-Lo in midfield.
The playmaker, who picked up the Premiership’s Best Newcomer award and Cardiff Blues’ Academy Player of the Season in 2018/19, is enjoying his run in the first team backline and hopes his versatility can give his side options in attack.
The former Wales under-20 international said: “This season has probably already exceeded my expectations. I was hoping at the start of the season to break into the first team environment gradually over the year and fortunately it has come through for me. It’s been a really good run for me.
“Probably the difference at this level is the speed of the game and the physicality in the collisions.
“It’s been really helpful to be playing in such an experienced team and in an experienced backline.
“You only have to look at some of the players around me - such as Jarrod Evans, Rey Lee-Lo and Josh Adams. They’ve been really helpful to me.
“Rey is really good, with his small talks during the games and his habits around the field. He can get you up when you need a little push and a switch on.
“It’s amazing to play alongside someone like that.
“I also think I can help boys like Jarrod and Tovey out with communication around the field, or by stepping up into first-receiver at times. I really enjoy having that freedom in my role.
“I’m enjoying playing 12 at the moment. It gives you a time to step back and have an extra half a second to see things and I’m really enjoying it.”
Thomas, who featured in both derby wins over Ospreys and Dragons during the festive period, is excited for another challenging encounter as Scarlets visit the Welsh capital on Friday, with a sell-out crowd expected at the Arms Park.
“The Scarlets have been playing really well over the last few games, and they’ve found a new style of play with Angus O’Brien at number 10,” added the youngster.
“But we’ve also been firing as a backline, so it should be a pretty good clash between us.
“All you can ask for as a young player is to test yourself against the best, so to potentially play against the starting Wales centre would be a real challenge for me.
“Hopefully we can get another big crowd at the Arms Park. The atmosphere here was amazing on Boxing Day and it brings the boys to that next level of performance and it really spurs us on.
“For myself though, you try to think more about the game itself rather than the occasion on days like that, which usually helps with any nerves.
“But there was definitely a time before the game where I was looking up at the crowd and got a couple of butterflies.”
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