GARETH Thomas is poised to become Wigan’s first signing for 2012.
In a shock move, the former British Lions centre is set to sign a one-year deal with the Challenge Cup winners for next season.
The 37-year-old has been on the hunt for a new club since his current outfit, Crusaders, announced they would not be continuing in Super League next season.
He was on Wigan’s radar earlier this year as a replacement for George Carmont, before he signed an extension at the doomed Wrexham-outfit. And though Carmont has since made a U-turn on his retirement plans, the Warriors still want him on board to provide depth to their three-quarters.
It is understood he has been offered a one-year deal and is keen on a move to the DW Stadium, where he would link up with his current Crusaders and Wales national coach Iestyn Harris – who will be appointed Shaun Wane’s assistant next year, a move exclusively revealed by the Evening Post last month.
The move for Thomas would surprise many supporters.
He turns 38 next July, and is the competition’s second-oldest player after Steve Menzies. But unlike former Kangaroos international Menzies, Thomas is relatively new to league, having only been persuaded to switch codes when ex-Warriors chief Brian Noble was in charge at Crusaders at the start of last year.
His form has been steady, but his age will raise concerns among the Warriors faithful, especially as Joel Tomkins is starting to flourish in the right-centre berth – as he showed at Wembley last Saturday – and home-grown products Darrell Goulding and Stefan Marsh are waiting in the wings.
But his capture would certainly help broaden Wigan’s profile. Thomas still has a huge following in Wales for his exploits in the 15-a-side code.
And his profile has rocketed since he became the sport’s only openly gay player – he is often featured in the national media, while Hollywood legend Mickey Rourke is currently making a film about his life.