Whisper it quietly... Matt’s fit.
To many newish Raiders fans those words may be followed by the question: ‘Matt who?’.
Anyone who has been watching Jordan Reynolds’ side the past three years will know which Matt we are talking about. It’s Matt Thomas of course, the big back-rower or No.8 who has promised so much but, sadly, in recent times has been sidelined by injury. Having arrived in 2013 the big Englishman proved an instant hit with the club. The head coach saw him as key as Raiders inched further up the London & SE Premier table.
Then the injuries hit. Wrist, then back - at one stage thought to be a slipped disc - and the most problematic of all, the fractured pelvis and associated issues were just three that kept the tax specialist at KPMG out for so long. All last season Thomas sat in the stands, his season written off by the injury he picked up in pre-season 2017. ‘It [the fractured pelvis] caused a load of problems around the hips and pubic bone. It took so long to get diagnosed properly that I didn’t start rehab properly until the end of the year. It took so long to be honest,’ he said last week ahead of the opening game of a campaign which he would dearly love to last the distance and once again show his true worth. Laughing as he utters the words: ‘I’m sure it’s going to be much better now I’m nearly 31.’The former Stourbridge player said that as frustrating as last season was, he was well accustomed to sitting in the stand. ‘I had full knee reconstruction in the 2011-12 season and I was out for a year, then as well. ‘So I am quite familiar with being out for an extended period.
’He says coming to the island has not disappointed him.
Five years since arriving, his career is going along just nicely and with his local partner has just bought a house. He’s almost a ‘Guern’. Now, with a great close season behind him regaining full fitness in the gym with Steve Melbourne, he has rejoined the squad and re-announced himself by touching down twice for tries in the recent pre-season friendly at Doncaster. Reynolds seldom does hyperbole, but he was so glad to have his No. 8 back, telling the Guernsey Press: ‘Matt [Thomas] was a massive asset which we lost last year. Instead of him controlling at 8 we had to
put Hill and Doug Horrocks there, who did the job, but it wasn’t their natural position. ‘But Matt’s really worked hard and he’s training really well at the moment. He is going to be a big asset for us again this year.’Let’s hope so and he certainly deserves it.