Thomas supports cup plan
Gareth Thomas thinks 2013 World Cup organisers are right to spread the matches far and wide in an effort to develop the 13-man code.
By Graeme Mair - Twitter: @gmair 1
Last Updated: 29/11/11 10:50am
Dual code international Gareth Thomas believes the rugby league World Cup provides an ideal opportunity to grow interest in the 13-man code beyond its traditional heartlands.
Organisers of the 2013 tournament have confirmed 18 of the venues to be used across four countries, and the list includes some surprise choices such as Bristol and Limerick.
The 14-team event will feature games in four different countries - England, France, Ireland and Wales - and Thomas thinks the balance is right.
"It's important for the development of the game the venues are spread out," Thomas told skysports.com.
"The fact they've gone to places like Limerick, Bristol, Wrexham - away from the heartlands of rugby league - says the game is developing in other areas.
"The RFL have looked where their game is developing and have chosen wisely in areas that have worked hard at developing it, giving them the reward of hosting a World Cup game."
Thomas is confident the tournament will draw interest even in union strongholds such as Munster's Thomond Park.
"It will be good for the players to experience playing at Thomond Park and I'm sure rugby union fans will go along not knowing what to expect and, hopefully, will go away having experienced a great rugby league game," the Welshman said.
"The way the future of both sports is going means there will be a lot of crossover from union to league. I think it is all about capitalising on that."
Thomas played down fears international rugby league lacks the depth to justify a 14-team showpiece.
"You do have two tiers in rugby league as you have in most sports," he admitted.
"You have the top tier with Australia, New Zealand and England, and then the other teams battling it out.
"Every team is there on merit and the group fixtures will be hotly contested."
On Wales' chances, he added: "They did well in the Four Nations this year and could hold their heads high, they competed hard.
"I'm confident they can make it through to the knockout stages.
"And, when you make it through to the knockout stages, anything is possible..."