Naomi Thomas, in action against France, will make her 50th appearance for Wales against Ireland.
Wales Women's coach Jason Lewis has paid tribute to inside centre Naomi Thomas who will lead the side out against Ireland in her 50th appearance for her country at Ashbourne tonight. (KO 7.30pm)
The talented Thomas has played in a number of positions across the backline for Wales since making her debut against the Netherlands in 2000. The Carmarthen-born utility back has also played for Wales Under 19s and the Sevens side.
"Ni is a gifted rugby player," said Lewis. "Having spent her younger days playing rugby against boys she has good game understanding and a natural attacking flair. She has a great pass and kicking game and is a real attacking threat across the backline having represented Wales at 10, 12, 13 and 15.
"Naomi is a great role model to up and coming players as she has mastered the key elements of the game and can execute them to the highest standards."
Lewis then concluded: "There couldn't be a better occasion for Ni to reach this milestone, it would be great for Ireland to experience fully Naomi's ability on Friday night!"
The gifted Thomas is taking her achievement in her stride. "For me all caps are important but to reach my 50th is an honour," she said.
"It's definitely a privilege to play for your country and you can't take that for granted," she added.
Thomas has overcome knee surgery to re-inforce her status as one of Lewis's key members of the squad. For the clash against Ireland she moves from outside centre to inside centre in a Welsh side boasting several changes to the backline which failed to fire against France.
"I remember my debut as I was only 18 years old and I scored a hat-trick on the wing," she recalls. "But it's all about Ireland now. We've got to go there and be switched on from the outset. It's really important we get a win because we want to finish as high as possible on the points table," added Thomas.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.