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'If you come back under 120 you're not going back to England camp'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Ex-England No8 Nathan Hughes has revealed the complicated fluctuating weight battle he endured during his three-year Test career due to the very different demands made of him by head coach Eddie Jones compared to Dai Young, his boss at the time at Wasps. It was 2013 when the Fijian-born forward arrived at Wasps following two years playing NPC for Auckland and having completed the three-year residency, he was then called up by Jones for England duty in autumn 2016.

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Hughes went on to play 22 times for his adopted country across three autumn series campaigns, three Six Nations and two summer tours. Twelve of those appearances came as a starter before he fell down the pecking order following his last run as a sub in the incredible March 2019 Twickenham draw versus Scotland at Twickenham. 

With his England career now over, the 30-year-old Hughes could next be seen playing Test level for his native Fiji as the three-year gap back to his last cap means he has served the necessary stand-down period in order to change allegiance under the new World Rugby eligibility regulation for tier-one capped player re-registering for their country of origin.   

In the meantime, Hughes has been reminiscing about his England days under Jones during a guest appearance on the latest edition of RugbyPass Offload and has explained the extreme lengths he went to satisfy his club boss at Wasps whenever he returned from international duty.  

Asked what his relationship was like with Jones during his time involved with England from 2016 to 2019, Hughes explained: “It was good. He knew how to approach different people. Every time I went into England camp I always stripped down so much weight and then when I went back to Wasps Dai would be like, ‘What the f*** are you doing? If you come back so light again you’re f***ed. You are not going back to England’. 

“Dai always loved a heavy pack. When you played Wasps it was always this big, heavy pack one to eight. Every time I came back he was, ‘If you come back under 120 you’re not going back to England camp’. So after England camp I always had to eat so much… and he always made me stand on the scales.”

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It was a bizarre workplace situation of having Young as the feeder at Wasps and Jones stripping the Hughes weight back with England, but the player insisted he didn’t mind the stress it caused. “It was quite good to know where I stood in the Wasps and England teams. Eddie always called me the English breakfast tea because all Fijians love tea and biscuit. So he called me the English breakfast tea,” added the No8, who has been on loan at Bath from Bristol since January.

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