ALED Thomas insists he is not joining Gloucester to make up the numbers and is determined to steer the Cherry and Whites back to the top of the domestic game.
The Welsh fly-half will move to Kingsholm in the summer, after spending the last three years at the Scarlets, and will compete with Greig Laidlaw for the number 10 jersey.
Thomas is used to biding his time for opportunities, having deputised for both Stephen Jones and Rhys Priestland during his time in Llanelli, but with the starting spot up for grabs at Kingsholm he is aiming to make an instant impression upon his arrival.
He said: “The last three years at the Scarlets have been brilliant playing in the Pro12 but it’s time for a new challenge.
“It’s going to be a big one but hopefully I can force my way into the starting line-up and help get Gloucester back to where they belong – in the top four.
“It’s been difficult having Rhys Priestland ahead of me at the Scarlets and that probably made my decision that little bit easier to make.
“When you get an opportunity and play well you want to stay in the team but there have been a lot of occasions when I have done that but Rhys has come straight back in because he’s an established international.
“There’s still plenty of competition with Greig Laidlaw, Billy Burns and lots of other players who can slot in there but if I play well at Gloucester hopefully I can hold onto the jersey.”
Thomas does not need to look much further than former Scarlets teammate Owen Williams for inspiration ahead of his move to the Premiership.
Williams quit the region in search of further opportunities at the end of last season and has gone on to establish himself at Leicester Tigers, even leap-frogging Toby Flood in the pecking order during recent months.
That has seen calls for Williams to be included in the Wales summer squad and Thomas hopes he can have a similar impact in cherry and white.
The man in possession of number 10 jersey at Kingsholm next season will be very different to recent campaigns, with both Thomas and Laidlaw offering a more pragmatic approach, and dependable goal-kicking, to the likes of Freddie Burns.
And while Thomas admits he is not a ‘flair’ fly-half, he reckons he can bring a well-rounded game to unleash Gloucester’s electric back-line.
Thomas said: “Owen Williams was in a similar situation to me but he made the move and is more than happy.
“He’s taken his opportunity and is playing fantastically well, hopefully I can emulate that.
“I feel I have improved massively over the last few years at the Scarlets and have a much better understanding of the game.
“I like to think I can bring a solid, all-round game. My defence is solid, I’m more than happy with my skill-set and distribution and my goal-kicking has been in the mid-70s this season.
“There’s some phenomenal talent at Gloucester with the likes of Billy Twelvetrees, Henry Trinder and Jonny May and I played with Ben Morgan while he was at the Scarlets so it will be fantastic to get back on the pitch with him.
“You have to be a threat as a fly-half, which I can, but hopefully I can unleash those devastating runners outside me because they will take a lot of stopping.
“Working with Nigel (Davies) before I know he’s a top coach and guy. He was a big influence on my decision because I know he has confidence in me.
There is certainly a growing Welsh contingent at Kingsholm with Thomas one of three players plucked from across the border for next season.
He previously played alongside Tom Isaacs in Wales’ World Cup winning Sevens side and has been in contact with Richard Hibbard ahead of the move.
Thomas is also good friends with both Dan George and Martyn Thomas, who are out of contract in the summer but could not speak highly enough of Gloucester and in particular the support they receive.
He added: “It will be great to catch up again with Tom and I’ve spoken to Richard about the move as well.
“But Martyn Thomas and Dan George are also both good friends and they can’t speak highly enough of the boys or the set-up at Gloucester.
“The boys talk so much about the support and the crowds in the Premiership and especially at Kingsholm.
“We struggle a bit in Wales, outside the derbies and big European games, so I’m looking forward to getting out on the Kingsholm pitch. A crowd like that deserves success and hopefully I can contribute massively.”