Welcomed to Rockhampton is new Cougars player David Thomas who has been playing his football in Wales.
Welcomed to Rockhampton is new Cougars player David Thomas who has been playing his football in Wales. ALLAN REINIKKA AR

Cougars welcome new Welsh defender

If looks are anything to go by, then Webbers Retravision Cougar David Thomas fits the bill.

The 23-year-old flew into Rockhampton yesterday and the physical size of the Hyundai QSL team’s new defender certainly made coach Brad Smith smile with appreciation.

At 186cm, Thomas is about the size of player the Cougars have been looking for to fill one of the defensive roles in the side.

He also comes with the appropriate football background.

“I was playing with Swansea University for four years,” he said

At university he gained his degree in sports science.

Apart from playing and captaining the university side, Thomas was also playing in the tough semi-professional Welsh League.

“I was with Pontardawe (Welsh League division one) for two years,” he said.

“Before that I was with Garw where we got promotion to division one (Welsh League).”

It may sound a little strange for a player from the Welsh League to turn up in Rockhampton to play football, but really there is a logical explanation.

Last year the Cougars had Tom Evans and Liam Williams in the squad and they too had played football at Swansea University.

“I’ve been a good friend of Liam for about four years,” Thomas explained in his lilting Welsh accent.

“I’ve been travelling through Asia and it was suggested about coming to Rocky.”

Thomas said he’d received favourable reports of the Rockhampton lifestyle and thought he would like to take a look for himself.

Also the young player still entertains ambitions of playing football at the highest levels he can manage and with Australia making the 2010 World Cup in South Africa it increased the profile of the game in this country.

“What better place to ply my trade,” he grinned.

“I’m still ambitious, like every young guy, from the time you kick a ball you want to make a living out of football.”

Thomas had also heard about former Liverpool star Robbie Fowler coming to Queensland (North Queensland Fury) and was impressed.

“When you have ex-professionals come over here it must be a good standard,” he argued.

Although his welcome to Rockhampton was a bit damp, Thomas is well aware of what the Central Queensland climate offers and is not too worried about playing his football in a warmer climate.

“The weather is great, far better than training on a frozen pitch,” he said.

“You only have to travel for about 30 minutes and then go for a run on the beach.”

Thomas said he liked what he had seen of Australia, having spent a little time in the country after touring Asia.

“Australia is very laid-back,” he observed.

Now, after touring, Thomas realises he must get to work with the Cougars and regain full fitness as quickly as possible.

So what does he see in his own game that will benefit the Cougars?

“I’m a defender,” he said.

While Thomas might enjoy playing football he enjoys being there to stop an opposition’s attacking moves.

“I’m always a defender first-up, I’ve been taught not to overplay in my position.”

Although only 23 years of age, Thomas is not afraid of accepting responsibility, having captained his university team.

“I bring leadership qualities and I say what I think,” he responded.

Thomas will not be the last signing for the Cougars.

Former Sydney-based player Bryce Ruthven is set to arrive in the city during the next few days as he has decided to play for the Cougars in his bid for A-League recognition.

Then next week, three more United Kingdom-based players arrive in Brisbane and are set to arrive in Rockhampton the following week.

“I’ll be very happy if they are all the same size as him (Thomas),” coach Brad Smith joked.

For Smith the arrival of players is timely news as he has holes to fill due to players making themselves unavailable.

However, the coach wants to see all the new players perform before he gets too excited as every squad member will be expected to play for a place.

Some local players are making a push with Capricorn Coast’s Jack Frahm, in particular, putting in the hard yards at training.

However, there have also been disappointments.

“I have contacted all the Clinton players and they have all declined,” he said.

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