VIDEO: Pontypool’s full-back, Clayton Gullis, gets his kicks, whatever the weather
4:44pm Wednesday 20th March 2013 in Sport
IT’S lunchtime on a cold Thursday in Pontypool. The rain is tearing down and the fabled Pontypool Park pitch is beginning to look like the type of swamp Shrek might call home rather than a surface for rugby.
Out in the middle of it all in a set of All Black shorts and his Pooler training top is Clayton Gullis, Pontypool’s 22-year-old full-back come fly-half.
It’s been a strange situation for the former Abersychan Comp pupil.
While Pooler’s form, just one win all season so far, has been nightmarish, he’s living out his dreams, having stood on the bank as a fan all his life before breaking into the first team squad this term.
His rise from Garndiffaith Under-8s to the flagship side in Torfaen has been testament to the hours, like today, he has spent working on his game.
Today he’s out for an hour and a half in what’s now a monsoon, kicking goals and practising his punts to touch on his day off from work for Admiral in Langstone.
“It’s a cliché, but you do get out what you put in,” he says.
“It’s always been all about rugby for me. I watch everything – Super 15, English Premiership, the RaboDirect, whatever’s on.
“When I was at Abersychan I’d finish school at 3.15pm and go straight to the fields to practise kicking and wouldn’t come home until it got dark. You used to be able to get a bit of light from the street lights to stay out longer,” he laughs.
“Every year I’d get new boots for Christmas and that would be it. I’d have to go out and use them.
“I first started going to watch Pontypool when I was ten so they’ve always been the club I support. I used to collect Pontypool tops.
“It’s such a privilege to play for this club and I love going up the Hanbury (the Pontypool clubhouse) for a beer with the supporters and hear the old stories.”
Given the Pontypool heroes of yesteryear have more often been forwards in the mould of Windsor, Price, Perkins and Cobner it is interesting Gullis should be so obsessed with kicking goals.
“I always remember seeing Neil Jenkins kicking for the Lions in South Africa,” he says.
“Everyone was booing him and he kept banging them over. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a kicker.
“I used to practice, imaging it was England/Wales, last minute of the game and we need the kick to win it.
Like when Jenkins kicked the winner against England (1999 at Wembley).“ And his kicking style should be familiar.
“I actually learnt to kick copying Youtube videos of James Hook kicking,” he said For the future his aim is to keep getting in the Pooler side and aim for that elusive second win of the season but again showing the versatility of the modern Valleys player, he would also like to represent the Dragons.
Until then, Pontypool fans can rest easy knowing no-one is working harder to try to see the club improve.
“The feeling when the fans are doing the Pooler chant is very special. We know how the fans feel.
This is an iconic club. It’s been hard this season but we are hungry to do well and our aim as a team is to get Pontypool