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Player Column: Ben Sparks

Friday 26th October 2018

I'm now in my sixth season as a Pontypool RFC player and I still relish every opportunity I get to represent this great club. I joined the club in 2013 and in that time have noticed a huge change in how it's run and operated.

When I arrived just over five years ago, the Jeffreys family had been in charge of Pooler for less than a year and were in the early stages of reviving the club after what had been a turbulent few years.

I can only speak from personal experience, but since those early days the set-up has changed beyond all recognition. The level of detail the club now puts into player welfare is something that I have never previously experienced. We are looked after from the training field right the way through to our match day preparations and are given excellent care during our rehabilitation from injury (something I know a little too much about after sustaining my fair share of injuries!)

The current squad is an extremely tight unit. We have players who have been at the club for a number of years and they help set the standards on-and-off the pitch. This rubs off on all new arrivals and hopefully ensures the culture that has been created endures.

The club is currently on a 32-game unbeaten run in the league. It's something that is extremely important to us as a squad. It isn't something that is at the forefront of our minds every time we train or play, but it something that we are proud of and want to keep going for as long as possible.

The league is perhaps the most competitive it's been since the introduction of ring-fencing in 2016. We were run close in a couple of games earlier in the season and know we will need to keep winning if we are give ourselves any chance of achieving our ultimate goal of promotion to the Principality Premiership at the end of the season.

On a personal note, my form this season has been stop-start. I was fortunate enough to score a hat-trick away against Newcastle Emlyn last weekend, but my tries were very much in the 'right place, right time' category. No individual brilliance unfortunately!

Injury has stopped me from potentially making more than my four appearances so far this season. I am striving for a little more consistency in my game at the moment and hopefully that will come as the season progresses.

This week we have been preparing to take on Maesteg Harlequins RFC at Pontypool Park. I understand the game will create a small slice of history, with the encounter set to be the first time the two clubs have met.

We have analysed Maesteg and what they will bring to the game, but we very much operate on a 80-20 split, whereby the majority of our preparation is focused on ourselves and how we can cause the opposition problems. As a group, we feel as though we will be more than a match for any team we face as long as we play to our strengths.


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