Having missed most of 2021 due to injury, she wasn’t initially in the frame for one of the first contracts offered to female players at the start of the year, but worked her way back into the set-up and was offered a retainer contract in February.
That was already a huge step for Powell, who started her rugby journey at Llantrisant RFC, but becoming full-time was always the end goal.
DREAM COME TRUE
“It’s amazing to be able to call myself a full-time rugby player,” she said. “I talked about how much getting a retainer contract meant to me but it’s always been a dream to be a professional player. Growing up, it wasn’t even possible to be a professional female player and now it’s a reality – and I’m part of that reality so I’m over the moon.
“It’s a six month contract for now, but I just need to work hard, have a good Rugby World Cup and put myself in a good place for next year.”
As with every athlete who achieves their dreams in sport, Kayleigh is grateful to her parents and coaches who have helped her along the way.
“Becoming a full-time player is massive for my family and friends too. My parents in particular did so much for me growing up to help me pursue my sporting goals. I remember once I had to beg them to take me to training when it was hammering down with rain – it has taken a lot of effort from a lot of people to get where I am now.”
‘I THOUGHT I’D MISSED THE BOAT’
From missing most of 2021 due to injury to taking up a full-time contract is a big turnaround, she admits.
“I was injured most of last year and thought I’d missed the boat. I just concentrated on getting back to fitness and form with my club Bristol and took my chances when they came with Wales. Having been through all that, I’m determined to take my opportunities now.
“I worked so hard to get here like everyone else but mine is just a slightly different route.”
“It was quite challenging having a part-time contract while still in my part-time job with Ospreys In The Community. I loved that job – to get children into sport and wanted to give them the best opportunities but I also wanted to give myself the best opportunity to do well playing for my country. Not being able to put everything into both was hard so being able to give everything to rugby now – hopefully my performance will go through roof and I can get to where I want to be.
“I like a bit of pressure, I like the fact there are no longer any excuses or reasons to prioritise something else instead. We’re in performance sport so we know about pressure and can thrive on it.
“Pre-season training has been savage throughout July but fitness was a big work-on for me. Going into the Six Nations on the back of injuries, my fitness had dipped, so I want to get back to full fitness, get involved in the game as much as possible and put myself in best possible position to keep getting better.”
With that determination, the sky is the limit.