Geraint Walsh exudes many of the same traits in conversation that he does on the rugby field. Walsh, who turns 31 next week, joined Pontypool RFC last summer after a trophy-laden stint at Sardis Road with Pontypridd RFC that was briefly punctuated by a spell with the Cardiff Blues, writes Andrew Deering.
The Pontypridd native has settled into life at Pontypool Park and is fully focused ahead of the club's eagerly-anticipated play-off against Llanelli RFC on Friday night. The equation is simple, victory for either team secures them the final spot in a slimmed-down 12-team Principality Premiership for the 2019-2020 season.
For Walsh, it represents an opportunity to help take the club back to the top division for the first time since 2012 and at the first time of asking following the end of ring-fencing. His know-how and experience have been vital this season, as the club claimed its third consecutive WRU National Championship title and reached the semi-final of the WRU National Cup, eventually bowing out to Merthyr RFC in a game Walsh believes the club should have won.
"There will be a fine line on Friday in not allowing our emotions to run away with us. In those terms, we have played three Principality Premiership sides this season and largely hit the right note.
"Despite the cup run, this will obviously be the biggest game of the season as the club has been working towards this for the last three seasons. We have to keep the pressure off ourselves and it will all be about belief on Friday night. A lot of our boys have been involved in Premiership teams and I think we can go into the game confident and with the belief that we can achieve something special," said Walsh.
Now the more mature side of 30, Walsh admits his game has changed since he first broke onto the scene with Pontypridd in 2012. His initial style of play, based predominantly around pace and power, would terrorise opposition defences, but as the years progressed, those trademark facets of his game were gradually replaced somewhat by an enhanced kicking game and desire to create space for others.
It provides a noticeable balance to the back-three at the club, with Walsh regularly joined by the youthful exuberance of wingers Jordan Thomas and Lloyd Lewis. However, whether he is now the arch linkman, the attacking force of old or the tactical lynch pin in the back field, his calm persona on and off the field could prove vital in Port Talbot on Friday night.
"If I'm lucky enough to be selected, I will try and be a bit more of a cool head on the field. I try to set an example through my actions and will look to make sensible decisions and not get too carried away. The boys in our back division are better when they are excited and can express themselves and it's important to keep everything positive.
"I think there will be a quiet focus in training this week. I think you will see an entertaining brand of rugby on Friday. The Aberavon surface is good and the weather is supposed to be decent. We have to back how we have approached things so far this season and keep going."