Yorkshire outfit Leeds Carnegie are on the cusp of a remarkable turnaround which could earn them a staggering £1million pounds - and at the heart of their amazing charge is former Scarlet, Ceiron Thomas.
All season Leeds have been relegation fodder in the Guinness Premiership but Carnegie are now just 80 minutes away from securing their place in the league - and financial security - in what is being described as the 'most significant game in their history' by club chief executive Gary Hetherington.
The canny Hetherington negotiated a full shareholding in Premier Rugby - which would give Leeds an extra £1m - with the league's powerbrokers but the only problem is - they have to avoid relegation. That seemed a pipe dream as Leeds sunk to the bottom of the table, but recently they have clawed their way to safey. And a major reason Leeds now have a glimmer of hope is down to the goal kicking prowess of 25-year-old Welshman Ceiron Thomas.
He has proved one of the most consistent kickers in the league and last week banged over another 13 points to give Leeds an unlikely lifeline when they unexpectedly defeated London Irish 13-23. His deadly boot has lifted Leeds off the bottom of the points table into ninth place.
So with so much riding on Sunday's game, is he having sleepless nights?
"You can't think about things too much," he says, "You've just got to go out there and treat it like any other game otherwise you put too much pressure on yourselves. With just two games to go we have to win on Sunday otherwise we leave ourselves with a lot to do as our last game is away to Bath and they're playing really well at the moment.
"If we can stay up we get that extra million pounds so we would be on level playing field next season with the other clubs. Our main aim then would be to just stay in the league for a couple of seasons and next season push for a Heineken Cup place.
"If we avoid the drop it would be against all of the odds. We get a million pounds less than everyone else. At the start of the season we didn't have a front row and if we do manage to stay up it would be amazing. The coaches to be fair to them stood by us and encouraged us and they have stuck by us."
Thomas has thrived in the Premiership this season and believes his game has improved 'in leaps and bounds.'
"I wouldn't say it is much different in standard compared to the Magners League but there is a lot more pressure on Guinness Premiership games and it is a little bit more physical. If you take us for instance we've got quite a small squad so more or less the same 15 guys play week in week out. Other teams rotate their squad a bit but our guys are pretty much flat out all season
"A lot of people say they should get rid of relegation and ring fence it but our league this season is really interesting because four or five teams could still go down. If it was ring fenced a lot of teams could have stopped playing a long time ago," he added.
Thomas still keeps in touch with some of his former Scarlets team mates and follows their results closely.
"I watch them all the time. They're a club I supported all my life and I still love the club, it's just sad to see the way things have gone there."
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