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'It’s a fine line': Ollie Sleightholme discusses how bulking affected his game

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Wednesday Jun 12, 2024

Ollie Sleightholme is coming off the back of his finest Gallagher Premiership season to date by concluding the lead season as top try scorer with 15 tries in as many appearances in Northampton Saints’ first Gallagher Premiership victory since 2014.

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Despite having been around the national and international set up for a good few years now, Sleightholme has never really attracted too much attention outside of the Northampton bubble. It is in part thanks to his team’s incredible success this season, that international selectors have had to stand up and take note.

Sleightholme was first introduced to the England set up three years ago under the tutelage of former head coach Eddie Jones, but despite this he’s never gained himself a full international cup.

TEDDINGTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 24: Ollie Sleightholme of England during an England ‘A’ training session at The Lensbury on June 24, 2021 in Teddington, England. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Under Steve Borthwick, this could all be about to change this summer. England are due to take the field against Japan in Tokyo on the 22nd of June before heading over to New Zealand for matches against the all Blacks on the 6th and 13th of July.

This will be a huge opportunity for Sleightholme to put his marker down on international selection as he looks to threaten the greatest defences in the world.

The Saints winger has been discussing the changes he’s made to put him in the position he’s now, citing his body shape as one of the key areas of improvement.

“It’s a fine, fine line between being too big and being right, in a good spot,” he said on Tuesday speaking to press.

“At the start of the year, I was probably a bit too bulked up and throughout the season I found where I needed to sit with my body. Then I got into a rhythm after that, really.”

“I put on eight [kilograms], I went from 90 kilos to 98 kilos in four and a half or five weeks. It was just loads of gym, loads of eating, basically. I got to the end of it and the S & Cs were all like ‘well done for doing it’, and I was like ‘I can’t play like this. I can’t play this heavy, it’s not going to work.’

“Then it was a case of starting to get back into training and it all sort of drops off.”

‌“The turning is the difficult bit, when you’re a bit heavier, turning and moving and changing direction, that’s when you feel it. Running in a straight line it’s not too bad because once the weight is moving, it’s moving. Changing direction and reacting to stuff I found difficult when I was a bit heavier.”

“I’m now somewhere around 92 kilos, so just a couple of kilos heavier than where I was. A weight of 92/93 is probably where I want to be.”

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