Exeter’s Jack Nowell starting to reap rewards of fitness drive

The wing is fit and firing again after injury problems.

Andrew Baldock
Sunday 02 January 2022 17:00
Exeter and England wing Jack Nowell has shown signs of getting back to top form (Steve Haag/PA).
Exeter and England wing Jack Nowell has shown signs of getting back to top form (Steve Haag/PA).

England international Jack Nowell has cut out alcohol and lost around 10 kilos in weight as part of his drive to help stay injury-free.

The Exeter wing last played Test rugby during England’s 2019 World Cup campaign.

He missed a chunk of last season after undergoing surgery on damaged toe ligaments and has also suffered hamstring problems during a frustrating period in his career.

Jack Nowell in action for England against Wales (David Davies/PA)

But Nowell is showing signs of recapturing top form, impressing during Exeter’s Gallagher Premiership victory over Bristol.

“I feel I am getting there,” said Nowell, who has won 34 England caps and played in two Tests for the British and Irish Lions on their 2017 New Zealand tour.

“For me, I am just targeting trying to be on the field each week. The last couple of years, everyone knows I’ve suffered a bit with injuries, but I feel I am going in the right direction.

“I don’t feel like I am at my best yet – I feel I have still got a lot more to give – but I am going in the right direction, along with the team.

“I have lost about 10 kilos since the (Premiership) final last year. For a 5ft 11in guy, weighing over 100 kilos is probably not the best. I am back down to about 90 kilos, and I am feeling good and feeling light.

“I have stopped drinking. I am not saying I was a big drinker or anything, but rugby players, and especially our team, we enjoy going out for a few beers after each game, and sometimes that leads on to going into town and early mornings.

“I have completely cut that out. I felt it was just letting me down a little bit. With (game) recovery on a Monday and a Tuesday, it was taking me longer and I am getting a bit older as well.

“It’s not just down to that. Obviously, dropping 10 kilos has been big for me as well and the way the team manage me during the week.

I was out for three or four weeks and I thought, 'Look, enough is enough'

Exeter wing Jack Nowell

“Leicester away, our first game of the season, we had a few (drinks) on the bus on the way home and got a bit carried away and then I tore my hamstring that week.

“I was out for three or four weeks and I thought, ‘Look, enough is enough, sometimes’. I want to get on the field and to get back playing.”

Nowell was a key part of Exeter’s domestic and European trophy double success in 2020, but he then faced several months on the sidelines recovering from a toe injury.

Ambitions for club and country were put on hold during a lengthy rehabilitation process, but current form suggests he could be on course for an England squad recall ahead of this season’s Guinness Six Nations campaign.

England head coach Eddie Jones (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Eddie (England head coach Eddie Jones) has always been in touch with me,” Nowell added. “He asks me how I am and how I am feeling.

“He understands that he needs the best for his team and he obviously knows what’s best for me as well, so the last couple of times he has said about concentrating on myself and getting myself back to where I need to be. It was quite pleasing to hear that and to have that contact with the team still.

“For me, I have always wanted to get back in there. My body, in terms of how I am feeling at the moment, is probably the best I’ve felt in a long, long time.”

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