LEIGHTON Jones is determined to lead Pontypool back to the Premiership after signing a new contract.

The former hooker, who played 172 times for the club, will continue to spearhead Pooler’s bid to get out of the Championship after extending his deal until next year.

Jones has been in the hotseat since 2016 and lead the club to three consecutive titles, while they have also beaten top-flight clubs Llanelli, Cardiff, Carmarthen Quins and Bridgend in knockout rugby.

Pooler suffered play-off anguish against Llanelli in 2019 and the following season was ended early when they were in a duel with Bargoed.

After a Covid-impacted 2021/22 season, set to end with the Bulls as champions, promotion is currently back on the cards for the next campaign.

“With my time at the club and with the relationship I have with the owners it was never a question about if I was going to sign, I was always going to stay at the club,” said Jones.

“We’re only on the start of the road to where we want to be so it was never a second thought in my mind about committing.

“That [promotion] is something that we have failed with in the past when we’ve had the opportunity.

“Being here and seeing people inside the group and the supporters so disappointed, that is something that drives me quite massively.

“To give the people in the club, the supporters and the community something they deserve and that is Premiership rugby and a local buzz around the town.”

South Wales Argus: Leighton Jones, flanked by Ben Jeffreys and Peter JeffreysLeighton Jones, flanked by Ben Jeffreys and Peter Jeffreys

Jones has won 100 of his 108 games and Pooler became the first club to enjoy a perfect Championship season in 2017/18.

“Leighton has been an outstanding representative of Pontypool RFC. His association of the club goes back 20 years as a player, a captain and now head coach,” said chief executive Ben Jeffreys.

“And it’s really the values he has instilled in this club; honesty, integrity, he has high standards but he delivers those standards and embodies them himself in what he does here.

“Although we’ve had a challenging season with COVID and the uncertainty and the instability around the league programme that is not a reflection of where we are as a club.

“We’re in a very positive place heading into an extremely important season next season.

“Leighton is the person who is leading that and has done a tremendous job of bringing stability during a challenging time and we have every confidence that Leighton is going to help take this club back into the Premiership next season.”