Gloucester Rugby: Yann Thomas the man to call for emergency tighthead switch
NOT since Greg 'Yoda' Somerville left Kingsholm three years ago have Gloucester boasted a prop who can switch comfortably across the front-row.
But now Yann Thomas is relishing his conversion to the dark side.
All Black cornerstone Somerville was a specialist tighthead who could do a decent job at loose.
Bristol-born 23-year-old Thomas is the opposite – but hell-bent on making a success of his number-three conversion.
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He explained: "I've always been happy to switch over to the dark side as they call it, in the tighthead spot.
"As long as you're out there playing, I would play fly-half if that's what they wanted!
"I just want to be out there with the boys, so like everyone else I will just do what it takes.
"The more positions you can play the more options you give yourself, and also the team too hopefully.
"There's not a lot of props out there that can play both loose and tighthead, so to be able to do it will hopefully be big in my favour."
Thomas started Saturday night's 27-22 Perpignan victory at loosehead, given Nick Wood's continued ban after his Saracens red card.
Shaun Knight suffered a heavy blow to the head at the start of the second quarter, bringing Dan Murphy into action – which meant a shift across to tighthead for Thomas.
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies will have been at pains not to expose highly-rated academy prospect Tom Heard, covering tighthead from the bench – with an hour's battle against a bruising French pack perhaps too much too soon.
Rupert Harden will be among those not involved against Perpignan hoping to have their chance to shine at Munster on Saturday (6pm).
Boss Davies has vowed to give all-but his entire squad a game in Gloucester's first two Heineken Cup weeks.
So along with Harden, the likes of number eight Ben Morgan should be in the mix for the weekend's Thomond Park trip.
Henry Trinder and Freddie Burns should have featured against Perpignan, but injury denied Trinder while illness struck Burns.
Thomas remains relieved Gloucester were able to hit back against Perpignan after a wretched tight-five showing in 29-12 Exeter defeat a week earlier.
But now the increasingly-versatile front-rower has challenged the Cherry and Whites to start that process all over again ahead of the weekend battle in Limerick.
He continued: "The best way to sum it up is chalk and cheese!
"You're only as good as your next game, and I stick to that.
"Exeter hurt us massively and the last few weeks we weren't at 100 per cent.
"But we got back to some hard work, fixed a few things, and hopefully put that back into practice against Perpignan.
"And now we really must keep it going.
"It's just the mindset that was better.
"We got a lot of stick against Exeter, the scrum wasn't going too badly, but things changed in the last 20 minutes.
"It was almost desperation to make the change, and we were saying all week we've got to have that desperation to change things and to be in control, in every part of our game.
"We wanted to get out there and make a massive point, and it was mindset more than anything.
"It's a huge, huge test for us at Munster.
"They will be coming out firing after their loss in Edinburgh.
"So we've got to knuckle down, get back to some hard work, not let this win go to our heads too much, and put in a performance.
"Exeter was a massive disappointment for all of us.
"We always say we should never be beaten easily at Kingsholm, and clearly we were.
"But look at the difference a week can make.
"And now we've got to start that process all over again.
"We know what Munster will bring: a big pack coming round the corner, backed up by amazing home support.
"And they've got a great backline that can open us up if we let them."