Thomas, the record Welsh try-scorer injured his ankle during the side's42-0 rout of the Barbarians in Bristol on Wednesday.
Initial indications were that Thomas could be sidelined for threemonths, an absence that would see him miss Wales's three-match tour and putat risk his move to French giants and European Cup finalists Toulouse.
However Wales coach Ruddock said yesterday, "I feared theworst at first, like everyone else. It is 99.9 percent certain Gareth willmiss the first Test against Argentina, he could make the second one andhopefully be available for the third match against the Springboks."
Ruddock, for whom the match was his first in charge sincesucceeding Steve Hansen, added: "He will see our medical team a bit later, but hewill definitely go on tour.
Meanwhile, French hooker Olivier Azam has signed upfor a second spell with Gloucester after spending the season withMontferrand.
The 29-year-old, who played for Gloucester between 2000 and 2003,turned his back on offers from several other English Premiership clubs andagreed a three-year contract after meeting club chairman Tom Walkinshaw.
Azam, described by England hooker Steve Thompson as his toughestopponent in the Premiership, will forge an all-international front rowalongside World Cup winner Phil Vickery and Springbok Christo Bezuidenhout. "I can't wait to get back to Gloucester. I'm certainly happyto be
"For me the stability and quality of the squad was key.Gloucester have one of the strongest squads and set-ups in the Premiership andEurope."
Azam, who won the last of his 10 caps against Australia in 2002,made a substantial impact during his first spell at Kingsholm and directorof rugby Nigel Melville admitted he was delighted by the Frenchman's return. "We've worked hard to bring Olivier back to Kingsholm. He's apowerful individual that will add to our forward options for the newseason," he said.
Azam's decision to return to England was no doubt influenced by Montferrand's failure to win the Challenge Cup, a loss that denied the French side a place in next season's Heineken Cup.
London Wasps centre Mark Denney will leavethe new European Cup champions at the end of the season after signing withCastres Olympique of France on a two-year deal.
Denney becomes the second Wasps player to join the French sideafter Paul Volley confirmed he would also be joining them during the off-season.
Denney, a Cambridge Blue and a qualified lawyer, has enjoyed asuccessful time at Wasps club since joining midway through season 1997-98. He captained the side on a number of occasions and has played morethan 150 games for the club. "I'm looking for a new challenge and France offers it. I'vesigned a two-year deal and Paul and I will join up with them in June,"the 29-year-old said.
AFP - 2004.