Nicky Smith v Ulster

Player feature: Nicky Smith

Like all of us Nicky Smith put some weight on during lockdown, but the difference between him and everyone else is that he meant to.

The Ospreys prop, who was one of seven call ups from the Liberty Stadium squad to the Wales squad for the Autumn Nations Cup, used the enforced break to bulk up and improve his physicality ahead of the return to rugby.

Nicky Smith
“I spent a lot of time in my garage, trying to put some weight on, so lockdown was good for me."

It has clearly worked too. He crossed the whitewash in the impressive first win for the Ospreys in Edinburgh since 2012. Then, of course, there is the little matter of becoming a father.

Smith, 26, admits he felt he needed to add some weight to improve his power at the scrum and some tonnage to his work at the ruck and tackle area. His work rate and mobility around the field have always been key parts of his game, but his desire to improve is impressive.

His weight has gone from 109kg when we went into lockdown back in March to 116kg at the start of the new Guinness Pro14 campaign against Edinburgh in October.

“I have always struggled with little injuries and my weight and, I know lockdown was tough on everyone, but it was sort of a golden opportunity, with no games, to try to put a bit of weight on,” said Smith.

“I spent a lot of time in my garage, trying to put some weight on, so lockdown was good for me.

"When I was younger I probably was in the category of having a bit of belly on me and I needed to lose that, but the last couple of years I have been paying 109kg or 110kg, which is quite light as a prop.

“It is tough to put weight on when you are playing because rugby is such a demanding sport. Even though lockdown was hard on everyone, it was an opportunity for me to go, no games for a while, lock myself in the garage and eat well and try to put a bit of bulk on.

“I think I have the balance right at the moment. You are never perfect, and I could probably be a bit heavier, but I am always striving to be fitter and stronger. I feel I am in a good place physically and I am raring to go.”

Nicky Smith Wales
Nicky Smith
“I haven’t thought about Wales that much, but it’s nice to be back after getting the axe last year”

So how did he achieve the desired weight gain? A dozen raw eggs?

“It was just consistency around my food and upping the meals a bit, “ said Smith.

“Where I was eating four meals a day on average before Lockdown, I was having six or seven meals during Lockdown.

“But the main thing was that I was in the gym, my garage, six times a week and limited the running to try and put some bulk on. So far, I feel much better than I did last season.”

Smith’s Lockdown regime certainly appears to have paid off, with a try for the Ospreys in the first game of the Pro14 campaign and a recall to the Wales set-up after missing the Six Nations.

“I haven’t thought about Wales that much, but it’s nice to be back after getting the axe last year,” said Smith.

“Its just Wales at the minute, we just have so much strength in depth. Warren Gatland alluded to it and it was always the case that we would one or two injuries and would struggle.

“Now you look across the board from one-to-15 and there are four or five players who could cover each position.  It just shows how far we have come with the regions and that national team.

“Long may that continue because at the end of the day, we all want success for the regions and internationally.”

Nicky Smith Tweet

Smith’s commitment to the Ospreys cause has never been in doubt and his reaction to becoming a new father on the eve of the Edinburgh game in Murrayfield, just underlines it.

His young son was born on the Friday morning before the team flew up to Scotland on the Saturday morning.

A phone call to Toby Booth, the new Ospreys Head Coach, and Smith reports for work after a momentous 24 hours in his life. How many of us would have called in claiming Maternity Leave? Smith didn’t, he was on the flight and in the side that beat Edinburgh 25-10.

So how are Mum and Dad and what is the name of his young son?

“Albie Smith, a little boy,” said Smith.

“Both partner and baby are doing really well. Having some sleepless nights at the minute, but I wouldn’t change it for the world

“He was born on the Friday morning, I had a chat with Toby, and I said I feel good. The team flew out on Saturday morning and came back in the early hours of Sunday.

“I came back to a crying baby and full nappy, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world.”