Having spent his entire playing career grafting away in the Pontypridd midfield, a true stalwart of the club, Steele Lewis is now the man in charge of coaching the current generation of backs.
Speaking to the Pontypridd Clubcall this week, "Stella" as he is known to one and all at Sardis Road, gives his views on the way things are going so far this season, a month into the new campaign. "I believe the standard of the Celtic League has definitely risen from what we experienced last year" says Stella, "and the Welsh clubs are going all out to win the trophy this time out. Obviously the results in general haven't been going our way, but ourselves at Ponty have been quite successful. We've won three out of our four games so far, and must be in with a good chance of qualifying from our pool".
Although enjoying a winning run, the general opinion at Pontypridd is that the team have not yet peaked, and will need to step up a few gears in order to achieve long term success - a view that is shared by the club's backs coach. "Its true to say we haven't hit top form so far" says Stella. "I think our best performance to date this season was away at Leinster, and that was the one game that we lost. We know there's room for improvement, and that we rode our luck to a great extent against the Borders last Friday evening. Hopefully we can improve from that kind of performance, and make sure that in the next game, we go for the big W".
That next game is a home tie against arguably the form side of season so far, Scottish province Glasgow, who have a one hundred per cent record, sitting proudly on top of pool B of the Celtic League. Steele Lewis knows that he and his squad must knuckle down this week to prepare for such a big encounter. "Glasgow are going great guns at the moment, but our boys at Ponty seem to be able to rise to the demands of the bigger games. If we can hit top form, and show the right attitude, then it should be a great spectacle on Saturday, and one that we can win".
The Pontypridd back line is currently brimming with talent, with a number of the squad, such as Parker, Bryant, Wyatt, Sweeney and Jenkins, putting in a strong claim for international recognition. For Steele Lewis, it is a great experience to be working with such players, although selection decisions at times can prove to be difficult. "Its a nice headache for me to have as a coach" says he. "Competition for places amongst the backs is sweet, with the likes of "pikey" Sweeney and the old Ginger Monster vying for the no 10 shirt, and Gareth Baber and Paul John fighting it out at scrum half. There is a good level of competition all along the back line, and also we have some great talent, such as Matthew Nuttall, coming up from the under twenty-one ranks. Its a nice situation for me as a coach, and for us as a club to be in".
Starting with the big game against Glasgow next Saturday afternoon, there are many difficult encounters lying ahead for Pontypridd. If showing a steel resolve in the face of adversity is one vital ingredient in the quest for success, then the club's squad could do worse than follow the tremendous example set by their backs coach, a man who lives up to his name - Steele Lewis.
Copyright Pontypridd Rugby Football Club Limited September 2002
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SWALEC Cup Final
Total votes 386
Atgyfodiad yn yr ail hanner yn cipio Cwpan SWALEC i Bontypridd yn erbyn Castell Nedd. Ar y maes cenedlaethol, pwy oedd arwr y dydd i Ponty? A second half revival clinches the SWALEC Cup for Pontypridd against Neath. At the national stadium who was the hero of the day for Ponty?