Height: 5 ft 10
Squat 1RM: About 50kg (Returning from a leg operation)
When and how did you get started with rugby?
I believe I started relatively late age, towards the end of primary school. I think in year 5 (aged 10) I was invited by a friend down to Mumbles RFC. I used to play football on a Saturday and Rugby on a Sunday but at 16 rugby moved to a Saturday and I had to choose between the two. To my shame I originally chose football but after a short period I saw the light and decided to play youth rugby. This decision was quickly vindicated as we got to go on an end of season tour to Butlins in Minehead.
How do you stay motivated?
Staying grounded and humble I believe is essential. The big thing for me was realising that at any moment you could suffer a career ending injury, so appreciate the now and make the most of the time you have when you are fit. Also, Eric Thomas aka the Hip Hop Preacher can make one a hell of a motivational speech so that helps.
What’s your typical gym training routine?
Chest Monday through to Thursday with arms thrown in on Friday!
On a serious note, I will aim to train 2-4 days a week dependent on matches and how my body feels. If I train three I will have an upper, lower and full body/power session. If it’s two or four I will have an upper/lower split. Each session will usually start with prehab then will contain a heavy compound lift (press/squat/deadlift/pull) for strength and some accessory work for hypertrophy. If there is any power or explosive movements they will be done first when the body is fresh. Core exercises will usually be integrated into each session.
What exercise/training system do you believe has helped your on-field performance the most?
Being explosive is crucial as a winger, I believe power exercises such as the clean and plyometric training (Bounds, depth and box jumps) have been the most beneficial in the gym. However having a good strength base from training the compound exercises (Squat, Bench, and Deadlift) is essential, remembering that you ain’t squat until you squat.
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What’s your typical daily diet like?
I aim to eat 4-5 meals a day with one or two snacks dependant on my hunger levels. I tend to eat carbs and protein with every meal – the more I train the more carbs I consume. I never count calories but rather tend to avoid consuming sugar focusing on eating good, real, food. I stick to drinking council pop, aka tap water, and the occasional cuppa.
Do you use supplements? If so, what and why?
I tend to avoid them as I have a stomach weaker than Luke Treharne’s hairline. If in a rush I will use whey protein after sessions but I prefer to eat a proper meal if I have the time. At the moment I am taking vitamins and collagen to help aid the recovery of my most recent surgery. When I played professionally I did take beta-alanine but it made me want to scratch my face off. However, this is my favourite supplement as I like to unknowingly slip it into friends cups of tea and watch to see their reaction.
What’s your preparation like before a game?
If I’m playing at a 3pm kick off I need to eat at least twice before the match, I like a good breakfast with a good balance of carbs of protein. Then about 2 hours before the game like to eat another meal – usually tuna pasta as its quick and easy. In terms of physical preparation I keep it low key in the morning, staying indoors, maybe stretching and a foam rolling after breakfast. At the ground I like to foam roll and complete all my personal dynamic stretches before I head out to warm up with the team.
Pre-match music or silent and focused?
Pre match music unless I forget my headphones.
Best moment in your rugby career?
I would say playing for Wales sevens in front of 80,000 at the Twickenham Sevens, It was only my second tournament for Wales 7s and I was still a Primary School teaching assistant. I made my debut a week earlier in Glasgow and I was completely bricking myself. The atmosphere was incredible and I remember during the warm up and could barely hear myself think. What made it even better was being voted by my team mates as player of the two tournaments shortly after.
Have you had any low points in your career? If so, what and how did you overcome them?
Plenty, I have had five operations during my short professional career, two on my right shoulder, one on my Thumb, one on my finger and most recently on my ankle/ lower leg. The hardest was probably the second time I injured my shoulder. This was because they wanted the operation to be the last resort so I had to wait three months to see if the fractured bone would heal, which it didn’t. It also meant that I missed out on playing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
I’m a firm believer that if you don’t laugh you’ll cry so I tend to try and use humour to overcome my injuries. Perspective also helps, I’m lucky to still have my health on my side and things could have been much worse.
Any funny rugby stories?
After a Rugby social at University, I woke up, alone, in someone else’s bedroom, clutching a half defrosted Gammon joint.
Any final tips and advice for somebody wanting to improve their rugby performance?
Play rugby. You can train as hard as you want but if you never test yourself in a pressured game environment you are never really going to get better. Also being fit and being match fit are two completely different things, nothing can replicate that lung-busting feeling as much as the first few games back after a break, no matter how many hours you have put in running.