Saints wing Collins feeling sharper as he hits his fighting weight
Saints may no longer have a 100 per cent record this season following their defeat at Wasps last Sunday, but Tom Collins does.
The speedy winger did not play at the CBS Arena last weekend as he was given a break.
Prior to that, Collins had enjoyed a prolific pre-season, scoring three times in two matches, and he had scored in his most recent competitive outing, the win against London Irish.
He had started Saints’ opening three league games this season, finishing on the winning side in all of them.
So it was something of a surprise to see him miss out on the matchday squad last weekend.
But when Collins does return to action, most likely in Saints’ next game, against Worcester Warriors on October 22, supporters will again be able to see how he is reaping the rewards of a change in body weight.
Collins, like much of the population, spent last year’s lockdown piling on the pounds.
The difference between him and a non-sportsperson though, was that his weight gain was intentional.
However, Collins soon realised that bigger wasn’t necessarily better and he made a conscious effort to slim down and return to what he feels is his more natural shape ahead of this season.
The 27-year-old explained: “I’ve been fluctuating.
“Last year in the first lockdown I went from about 82kg up to 100kg, which helped me a bit, but trying to run around on that weight wasn’t ideal.
“All of a sudden I’ve gone all the way back down again, to 81kg or 82kg.
“I just tested the water with the weight gain and it’s a funny story because I sort of aimed to put some weight on in the first lockdown and I really struggled.
“I was like ‘I can’t keep it on, I can’t keep it on’ and all of a sudden it was like a snowball effect and before I knew it I was 96kg and I’d piled on the weight.
“I came back and actually felt okay but trying to get around on the pitch wasn’t ideal.
“I came back and this pre-season I’ve just tried to smash my fitness and I feel great at this weight.
“This is my natural weight and it works for me.”
Reflecting on his lockdown bulking last year, Collins said: “It actually got to a point where I was getting sick of eating.
“I was doing nothing else other than just gym, eat and go outside and do a field session and eat again.
“My girlfriend had a go at me every 10 minutes because I would go keep turning on the Nutribullet to make something else or I was cooking something else.
“But in a way I’ve tested the water, it worked in some ways, it didn’t in others.
“But it’s nice to be at my natural weight again.
“I’m always being moaned at by the S&C (strength and conditioning team) to put on some weight but I think we’ve found a comfortable balance at the moment.”
While Collins’ reduced size means he can fly in attack, it could also hamper him in defence if he comes up against some of the league’s bigger wingers.
But he believes shrewd positioning can help him in those situations.
He explained: “Don’t get me wrong, a lot of it is to do with weight and size but a lot of it is putting your body in the right position.
“I’ve been working on it in training and hopefully it’s reflected on the pitch.”
Collins was only able to start eight games for Saints last season, coming off the bench in four of them as he notched a total of three tries.
But he wants far more game time and scores this time round.
“It’s been a frustrating few years for me, especially with injuries,” said Collins, who has scored 34 tries in 112 appearances for Saints.
“Last year was very frustrating and this year I wanted to start it off how I want to carry it on.
“I just hope we can get back to moving the ball around and get some games where we actually get some free-flowing rugby.
“It’s been a frustrating start to the year in terms of how we’ve moved the ball because as a winger we’ve not seen too much out wide.
“It’s all been about the nitty and gritty stuff and cracking on and defending well.
"But it was good to get a try on the board, my first of the season, in the game against London Irish.”