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Thomas retires after heart attack

Scarlets and Wales prop Rhys Thomas has been forced to retire from rugby after suffering a heart attack in January.

The 29-year-old tighthead, who has won seven caps for his country, was taken ill during a cardio session in the gym at the region's Parc y Scarlets ground.

He was treated by the Scarlets' medical team and was then rushed to Morriston Hospital in Swansea where he underwent a life-saving quadruple heart bypass operation.

Thomas, who suffered a mild heart attack while with the Newport Gwent Dragons in 2006, says it could take him up to a year to fully recover.

He said: "At the moment, it is about spending time with my family and friends and I'd like to thank my wife, Paula, for all her support. I'm just concentrating on getting myself fit and healthy again, and that could take 12 months after what's happened.

"The support I've been shown has been incredible and I'd like to thank all the Scarlets rugby supporters, my colleagues at Parc y Scarlets, fellow players, people across the rugby world and all those who have sent me their best wishes.

"To receive so many messages over the past few months has been a real boost to me and my family during a fairly challenging time."

Thomas is now on a special diet and fitness programme to help him return to full health, but hopes to remain involved in the game.

He added: "It's still early but I know that I want to stay in the game that means so much to me. Perhaps coaching, helping out young front-rowers. There's a number of things I might be able to do.

"It's been tough to close this chapter because I really felt I was hitting some form this season. But I have to move on now and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Scarlets."

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