The loose head expert has been using his furlough period to lend an extra pair of hands to his off-field business partner Ross Johnston in their flooring company. Among their leading products is artificial grass and they have experienced a huge demand in recent weeks.
“It’s a bit ironic that I’ve had to stay off the grass in my training, riding the Watt Bike and working out in my home made gym at the house, yet through our company I’ve been able to get onto some lovely lawns,” said Gill.
“With all the warm weather we’ve been having the orders for artificial grass lawns have shot through the roof. We’ve recently been sending out 2,000 metres a week and we can’t get our hands on enough of the stuff from the suppliers.
“It has been great to have something else to concentrate on during lockdown – and to get a break from home schooling my three kids.
“”Given the players have taken a three-month pay cut of 25%, it has also helped to bring in a little extra money.
“These are tough times for everyone, including professional sportsmen, and keeping active mentally as well as physically has been important. Ross runs the business on a day-to-day basis with our manager Jason and I help out as much as I can.”
Looking after his future after rugby has always been important for the 33-year-old Gill, who made more than 100 appearances for Saracens after leaving the Blues in 2009. He was in the first Sarries side to win the English Premiership title and won seven caps for Wales from the wrong side of the bridge.
He then returned to the Blues in 2016 and started in their second European Challenge Cup triumph in Bilbao in 2018. With more than 200 professional games for Saracens and the Blues there are still no signs of him slowing down on the field, but he is also looking to keep up with his business partner off it.
“Ross and I used to play together at the Blues before he moved to Bristol and I went off to Saracens. We were always talking about getting a business venture off the ground for our lives post-rugby and a week after Ross was forced to retire we got the chance to buy Stores4Floors,” explained Gill, who also owns a hairdressers.
“Over the past five years we’ve opened a second outlet in Whitchurch to add to our shop in Pontyclun and things are moving in the right direction. It so important to have an eye on your future after professional rugby and it is something more and more players are doing.
“I’ve been fortunate to have played as a professional at two great clubs for more than a decade, but anything can happen. Ross had to retire when he was at Bristol because of an ankle injury at the age of 28 when he was just reaching his prime.
“The key thing is to take your competitive sporting edge and training into your business ventures to turn them into success stories. We’ve done a bit of house renovation as well and judging by the recent orders for the artificial grass we can expect a lot more work on that front.”
Today, though, Gill will be back on the Watt Bike pounding out the miles as he gets ready to return to action with the Blues over the next few months. There is a predicted return to training in the first week of July and then, hopefully, some inter-Regional action over two weekends in August.
“Like everyone else, I can’t wait to get back to proper training and playing. Lockdown has given us all a chance to get rid of some niggles, and to work on our fitness, but we will have to get used to take the bumps again,” added Gill.
“I don’t think any of us will be overly concerned about safety on our return. The Blues seem to have all that side of things well covered, but there is obviously a worry over our wages.
“Rumours of long-term pay cuts can pile on the pressure for all players, especially those with young families, and I hope any uncertainty surrounding wages can be cleared up as soon as possible.”