England winger Jack Nowell cited a realisation that he needed to “stop being a weightlifter” as a big reason behind his return to the international stage after he decided to lose weight to stay fit for longer.
Nowell, whose return to the England set up was cemented with a full 80 minutes against Wales at Twickenham in Round 3 of the Guinness Six Nations, hadn’t featured for England since the 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign until he returned against Italy.
The 28-year-old, who has 37 England caps, completely cut out alcohol and has lost 10kg, which has seen a return to form and a return to Eddie Jones’ plans.
He said: “The one thing I never wanted to lose was my carrying ability into contact, and I’ve always wanted to back myself and been pretty strong in that area.
“Weight does help with that, but the bigger picture is that I was picking up way too many injuries and that’s probably because I was a little bit bigger than what my body actually needed to be.
“So I think it was the decision to stop thinking about being a weightlifter and stop thinking about how much I can lift in the gym, and actually do my job playing rugby and getting through seasons back-to-back as well as putting games back-to-back.
“It was tough and it was a long journey, with a few sacrifices, but it’s something that definitely needed to happen.”
Nowell made his England debut in 2014, aged just 20, in that year’s Championship opener against France in Paris under Stuart Lancaster.
But Jones has been his England coach since 2016, accounting for most of an international career which has included two Guinness Six Nations titles, a Grand Slam and a run to the World Cup final.
Nowell is grateful for how the Australian has managed him in his six-year tenure at the head of English Rugby and said: “Obviously he’s been pretty influential.
“He’s always been pretty honest with me and said what he wants from me.
“He’s always said that’s what you need to work on, that’s what you need to get better at. I’ve spoken about it before when I have been out for the last few years, but I’ve always had that pretty clear picture of what I need to do to get better.
“I never wanted to leave the team, but when you are out of it, it’s for the bigger picture and it’s about doing what you can to get back in.
“That trust that he’s put in me to get involved has obviously paid off for me a little bit, so he’s been a massive part of my playing career and especially my England career.”