Danny Thomas is going back to home-town club Barnstaple, after agreeing to become the new player-coach at Pottington Road. Thomas, 34, a near-permanent feature in the Plymouth Albion back row for a decade, began his rugby career at Barnstaple when he was
Danny Thomas is going back to home-town club Barnstaple, after agreeing to become the new player-coach at Pottington Road.
Thomas, 34, a near-permanent feature in the Plymouth Albion back row for a decade, began his rugby career at Barnstaple when he was 15. The raw Braunton schoolboy forced his way into the first team at 19 and was talent-spotted during the 1999-2000 campaign while playing for Devon.
Thomas went on to play 141 times for Albion and was a member of two promotion-winning sides.
Thomas did not start a game last season - he came off the bench against Cornish Pirates and Moseley - and spent most of his time coaching.
It was inevitable Thomas would be leaving Brickfields sooner or later, and almost as inevitable he would be going back to Barnstaple once Kevin Squire announced in April he was standing down as coach and director of rugby.
Thomas will be taking on the coaching role, perhaps with some playing thrown in, but Barnstaple are still looking for a replacement director or a chairman of selectors.
Thomas said he was looking forward to his new job - the post is part-time and paid - but he also admitted to some trepidation.
"I was filling in my CV recently as part of the job-finding process, and realised I had nothing other than rugby to put down there," said Thomas, who has a degree in sports and leisure management.
"Since leaving university and going to Albion, I have been a full-time rugby player. Going back to the world of work is a bit scary!
"I am about to get married and it is time to move on from Albion, get a proper job and some financial security.
"It is going to be a challenge going back to Barnstaple, but one I am looking forward to. I have worked with some great coaches - Graham Dawe and John Roberts - and learned a lot from them. I hope I can bring a new approach to the job."
A new approach is just what Barum chairman Martin Mogford is looking for, which is why he approached Thomas in the first place.
"If you appoint from outside you bring in someone with fresh ideas, and after five years of Kevin doing a superb job it is time to try something different," said Mogford. "Primarily, Danny is coming to coach, but if he wants to play there are no problems with that either.
"He has massive experience at a high level in the National Leagues and has had his successes as well. We get back to training on June 22 and Danny will be there then to meet the players for the first time.