Carl Ablett gets stuck into life after Leeds Rhinos

Carl Ablett, left and Ryan Hall celebrate Leeds Rhinos' Challenge Cup win over Castleford Tigers at Wembley in 2014. Picture by Steve Riding.Carl Ablett, left and Ryan Hall celebrate Leeds Rhinos' Challenge Cup win over Castleford Tigers at Wembley in 2014. Picture by Steve Riding.
Carl Ablett, left and Ryan Hall celebrate Leeds Rhinos' Challenge Cup win over Castleford Tigers at Wembley in 2014. Picture by Steve Riding. | jpimedia
Forward planning has helped former Leeds Rhinos star Carl Ablett adjust to life after rugby.

Ablett - whose seven Grand Final wins without defeat is a Super League record - retired at the end of last season after a 15-year playing career which included 323 appearances for Rhinos.

He had a year left on his contract, but decided to call it a day after an ankle injury kept him off the field throughout 2019.

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The 34-year-old trained as a plumber during the latter stages of his playing career and has now established his own business, Ablett Plumbing and Heating, in Leeds.

A youthful Carl Ablett in action at Hull, in Lee Jackson's testimonial game, 16 years ago. Picture by Steve Riding.A youthful Carl Ablett in action at Hull, in Lee Jackson's testimonial game, 16 years ago. Picture by Steve Riding.
A youthful Carl Ablett in action at Hull, in Lee Jackson's testimonial game, 16 years ago. Picture by Steve Riding. | jpimedia

Becoming a one-man band after so long in a team environment was a culture shock, but Ablett reckons he was well prepared to go it alone. Reflecting on his transition away from being a professional sportsman, he said: “During the back end of my career I had already made provisions and started planning; I always knew it wasn’t going to go on forever so I think I had my head around it mentally.

“I did the training courses and did everything I needed to get done. I retired a year earlier than I expected, but you try to anticipate and plan for these things.

“It was quite difficult at first, just trying to get everything sorted and up and running, getting the business ready and trying to accelerate things.

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“But I have enjoyed the challenge, it is something different. I enjoy doing the hours and the work, it has been a welcome change and I have enjoyed it.”

An ankle injury suffered against Hull KR in 2018 effectively ended Carl Ablett's career Picture by James Hardisty.An ankle injury suffered against Hull KR in 2018 effectively ended Carl Ablett's career Picture by James Hardisty.
An ankle injury suffered against Hull KR in 2018 effectively ended Carl Ablett's career Picture by James Hardisty. | jpimedia

Ablett is also relishing being his own boss. He confirmed: “I do quite a bit of work with other people, my brother in law is a gas engineer and I’ve got a few mates I tend to do quite a bit with, but I quite enjoy being the master of my own destiny.

“When you run your own business you can work when you want and do as much work as you want. I think that has been a help, being able to do stuff when I want and being in charge.”

Ablett admitted he does miss being part of a team at times.

“Especially elite level like that,” he said. “Being surrounded by an environment like that there’s obviously things you miss, but I have enjoyed the challenge of doing work by myself and going out and working.”

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Carl Ablett and his children say farewell at Leeds Rhinos' final game of last season. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Carl Ablett and his children say farewell at Leeds Rhinos' final game of last season. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Carl Ablett and his children say farewell at Leeds Rhinos' final game of last season. Picture by Bruce Rollinson. | jpimedia

As a plumber, Ablett is classed as an essential worker during the Covid-19 crisis, but he has also had to balance that with the need to protect his family.

“Having a family, you have to be thinking about them at these times,” he stressed. “You have to be taking precautions and doing what you can.

“You want to be protecting them so you don’t want to expose yourself too much.

“My daughter has asthma and I have been quite mindful of that. It has been quite nice to get some time at home.

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“The kids have been at home so it has been a good opportunity to spend some time with them.”

The pandemic has made life difficult for all businesses and Ablett added: “It has probably come at a bad time, the government is trying to do what it can, but I am self-employed and the self employment schemes want months and years of books.

“I have been going less than six months so there’s not much support there.

“It has been a case of just getting through it, hopefully there is an end in sight now and stuff can start to be eased and I can get back out there and find more work.”

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Ablett has no involvement with rugby league and said it has been “quite nice to make that break and try to fully focus on the business”.

He added: “Coaching takes up a lot of time. It’s not just the on-field sessions, it’s the preparation, the reviewing, the stuff that goes with it.

“When I made the decision I was going to retire and start up on my own that was something I wanted to fully focus on.”

Ablett’s website is now online at ablettplumbingheating.co.uk.

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