NEW fly-half Richard Powell hopes his experience can help Pontypool finally get over the line in their bid for a Premiership return, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 31-year-old playmaker joins the champions after a two-year spell with Merthyr, helping the Ironmen to a pair of Premiership titles and a WRU National Cup triumph.

Powell, a prolific kicker, previously pulled the strings with Newbridge before heading to Bedwas and racking up 1,224 points in 129 appearances and helping them lift the Challenge Cup.

Now he will head to Pooler to fill the void left by Matthew Jones, who has returned to his hometown club Neath as player-coach.

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"Following my exit from Merthyr, I was considering taking some time away from the game," said Powell.

"However, following a discussion with Leighton and Tom (Hancock, backs coach), I was enthused about Pontypool and the club ticked all the boxes in terms of encouraging me to continue in the game.

"Pooler is a massive club with huge ambition, a great squad of players and an experienced coaching team.

"The club has proved over the last few years that it has all the ingredients in place to mount a successful bid for promotion this season and I hope that my experience and enthusiasm will make a positive impact over the next twelve months."

Powell's knowhow will be useful in what is likely to be a more competitive Championship featuring the four relegated sides Neath, Bargoed, Cross Keys and Bedwas.

Hancock is pleased to have bolstered Pooler's options in their quest for a fourth title on the bounce, which this season carries the prize of automatic promotion.

"Richard is an excellent signing for the club," said Hancock. "He is a Gwent man who will be aware of what it means to play for Pontypool.

"We need depth in every position to be able to challenge for promotion and we now have that in abundance.

"We now have three excellent options at ten in Richard, Matthew Lewis and Kieran Meek. Building an understanding between players in important positions can take time, so to have that established from the offset is an additional bonus and should help him fit in seamlessly.

"Richard is another member of our squad with significant Premiership experience and he is a proven points scorer at the highest level of semi-professional rugby in Wales.

"With the club playing an additional four league games this season and with four Premiership sides dropping down, he will have an important part to play."

Pooler start their season with a home game against Beddau on Saturday, September 7 and tune-up for that clash by facing Canterbury of England's National One at Talywain on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).