Despite coming up just short in the Final, last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan was a breakout tournament for 21-year-old Tom Curry.
The Sale and England man was hailed as his country’s best performer, and now he’s looking to take that high-flying form into next month’s Guinness Six Nations.
Men’s Fitness sat down with Curry – dubbed the ‘Kamikaze Kid’ for his body-on-the-line approach – before he headed off for England’s tournament training camp.
Men’s Fitness: Tom, congratulation on the call-up. You’re about to join up with the rest of the squad – what goes on at a pre-tournament training camp?
Tom Curry: “It’s all about trying to get as close as possible off of the pitch as much as working on the plans you have on it. To be there you have to be a very good rugby player of course, but getting that bond and spirit going off the pitch is where you can squeeze out that extra one or two per cent you need. It works by getting really tight and properly getting to know each other.”
MF: How tough is it? Will you be training at match intensity?
TC: “It’s still full on. Just to get into the mentality of playing in such a competitive tournament against such tough opposition it has to be hard. Rugby is a brutal game and you need to be tested to the proper edges of your limits to properly replicate the game scenario. It’s designed to test how we’d react and shape our behaviour for when we are in those tough situations.”
MF: Are you expecting any changes to your training based on lessons from the World Cup?
TC: “To be honest I’m not too sure. It’s going to be a bit of a surprise for us. In terms of the gym stuff it will still be the drills that are very specific to rugby. At this stage it’s not about getting big or getting strong, it’s all about moving better.
“It’s very much functional fitness-focused: so working around moves you do on the pitch, doing plyometric stuff that replicates line out jumping, that kind of thing.”
MF: You’ve bulked up since you first burst onto the international scene – how has that affected your game?
TC: “My brother [and Sale teammate, Ben] and I have been in the gym since we were about 13 with our dad so it’s always been on my schedule, whether I was playing or not, to be working out and building strength.
“But then it all came down to an injury: I dislocated my wrist and that gave me four months to work my legs. I noticed massive improvements from those sessions and gained a lot of muscle. I’ve always been topping up in terms of upper body, too.”
MF: Presumably you were eating big as well?
TC: “Yeah nutrition has been vital. I found that by having a plan in place for what to eat and sticking to a diet designed to help build muscle for a few months you start to see it all come together.
“In season my diet is much more about the carbohydrates – lots of pasta – but otherwise I base much of my diet around protein first and then build in the carbs. I absolutely love chicken. It’s not exactly exciting but it works for me.”
MF: What’s on the menu before before a big game?
TC: “Game day is pretty weird for me. I’ll eat in the morning, but I’ll go for something pretty safe like pancakes – just in a greater volume than normal.
“Then I’ll be snacking on bars until the game, looking to add an extra 1,500 calories before kick-off.
“I can’t really stomach post-match shakes so I usually just have milk after the game.”
MF: Finally, what lessons will you, personally, take from Japan that are going to help you in this tournament?
TC: “I think it’s that importance on how close you can get as a unit off the field. That was the first time for me experiencing 20 weeks with the same squad. People tell you how important that is, but you can only really learn form it once you experience it for yourself.
“It also makes it more fun for everyone, getting to know each other and if everyone is having fun you get the most out of each other. In the England set-up it’s the likes of Joe Marler, Jamie George and Elliot Daly who are the real jokers that keep it entertaining.”
Tom Curry is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has been helping rugby fans discover the sport for over 20 years. Visit landrover.co.uk
Words: Rob Kemp