PONTYPOOL chief Leighton Jones insists there is no lack of motivation among his players despite the fact promotion to the Principality Premiership remains unavailable until 2020, writes David Williams.

After suffering just one defeat on their way to the Championship title last season, Pooler are already 14 points clear at the summit this term and boast a 100 per cent record.

However, with the Welsh Rugby Union having ring-fenced the domestic game’s top tier until the end of the 2019/20 campaign, Jones’ men can’t currently move up the ladder.

While the matter is an ongoing source of frustration for Pooler, defending their Championship crown with a full house of wins and another cup run would go some way to easing those feelings.

And although Premiership rugby isn’t on offer for now, Jones has no doubts that there is still a big drive within his ranks to keep taking the team forward.

“The motivation is there,” said the head coach. “We’re bringing in good players and management and the environment is a good one.

“It’s just all about winning. The group is really competitive with each other and other teams.

“We’re just going to try and keep being successful and focus on developing our standards so when the time comes we will be equipped to deal with things at a higher level.”

Working with other clubs in the area has been a big positive for Pontypool, with youngsters new to the set-up giving the older heads lots of competition for places.

Jones added: “Our squad has definitely moved on from last season.

“Winning helps but it’s also the way we are playing and how the club is engaging with the community.

“We’ve brought in six local boys under the age of 20 from Talywain, Pontypool United and Croesyceiliog.

“They have not only strengthened the squad on the field but made a big impact off it too.

“A lot of them have been exposed to Championship rugby and done really well.

“Quite regularly we’ve had two or three 18-year-olds in the starting XV who have added to the environment.

“They have taken their chance and kept more senior players on their toes, so it shows the strength of the competition for places.”

With 12 wins from 12 games, Pooler may well do what they couldn’t manage last season and go the whole campaign without experiencing the pain of defeat or the frustration that comes with a draw.

“A lot of people are talking about us going through this season unbeaten,” said Jones. “If the truth be told we are just looking at our own performances.

“If we perform as we can then I’m sure that could be on the cards, but we never really look at more than one game at a time.

“Newbridge are up next and that’s going to be really tough, they’ve got some very good players and have climbed to fifth in the table.

“They’ve had some great results and are capable of beating anyone on their day.

“It’s a Gwent derby at the end of the day so we know they’re going to be up for it.”

Flanker Mike Herbert and wing Jordan Thomas have been praised by Jones following the impact they’ve made since arriving from Pontypool United and Talywain respectively.