Leading by example in the sky blue shirt, captain Jack Winters is commanding the pack as Galwegians return to AIL action following the Christmas break as league leaders. Prior to the match at Ballina this weekend, Jack Winters sat down to discuss a storied career for the Blues thus far.
From county Mayo, Jack’s rugby career began and blossomed playing for his local club Ballinrobe RFC, where he harnessed his skills at underage level before eventually progressing into the senior squad.
In 2017, Jack got his first big break with a call-up to the Connacht junior team and started to attract attention from the Galwegian coaching staff. Brian ‘Beano’ McClearn made the call to Jack to ask if he wanted to join the club where he would be plucked into the first team.
“Beano got onto me”, said Jack. “Galwegians were in Division 2A at the time and he asked me to come up and join the team. At the time, I was working and living in Galway so it felt like a no-brainer”.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, it was a big step up in standard for me. But I felt I really relished in the role and ended up starting most games”.
Starting as a number eight as part of the forwards, Jack has proved himself to be a jack-of-all-trades, exploring a variety of positions to further improve his game.
Now leading at the front as a loosehead prop, it has revolutionised his style of play.
As a player who has ventured the field through many different positions as a forward, some wisdom he gives to young players is to try out as many positions as possible.
“It was something that changed my rugby career completely when I switched to the front row. I think the more multifaceted a player can be, the more useful you can be to your squad. Especially in the AIL where you are limited with the number of subs, players that can cover multiple positions are a bonus”.
Jack has established himself as one of the veterans of the Galwegians First team with plenty of young, promising talents scattered across the squad. But his experience has proved fruitful as he led the squad to the top of Division 2C at Christmas.
Jack was given the opportunity to become the captain of the Galwegians squad which was an outstanding honour for himself. Jack has relished the role and praised his squad for having such a strong bond and is determined to achieve their maximum on and off the pitch.
“It was a huge honour to be captain, it was never something that crossed my mind when I first walked into the club. Looking at the club and the massive history it has, to be given the captaincy is an incredible honour”.
“We have a great bunch of lads who are all so self-motivated which makes my job easier. But we back each other on and off the field. There are a lot more than just myself who are constantly striving for perfection in training and on the pitch. To be captain of such a talented group of lads is incredible”.
Jack has craved success with Galwegians and the wave of momentum the club is riding has been a source of motivation and inspiration to keep pushing and make the next step as a player.
“This year in particular we have built such a strong squad and we have been playing together at the right end of the table, to be top at Christmas is unbelievable. That has always been a motivational factor was to be successful at the club”.
The highlight of his season was the inaugural game of the AIL season against Tullamore, where Jack and the rest of the team were taking a plunge into the unknown with a revamped squad and their first game after relegation from 2B.
“We were embarking on a brand new challenge with a brand new squad of players. I didn’t know what my players were going to be like, but we kicked off our season where we wanted to go on with a bonus point win. That game against Tullamore was a very rewarding one”.
For the years of experience that Jack possesses, he ensures they won’t take their position in the standings for granted saying that “you don’t win medals for being top at Christmas”.
“Every game is huge but the three games in particular will be Clogher Valley, Bruff and Enniscorthy and we hope to get as much support for those matches as possible to travel with us. We will be gunning to win those games”.
Jack doesn’t look on stopping anytime soon and looks to don the sky blue jersey for many seasons to come, but even when he decides to hang up the boots, he sees himself staying on with Galwegians in one capacity or another.
“I don’t think I would be able to get away from Galwegians, I love it too much. I will help in any way possible, maybe coaching in the future!”.