New signing Taqele Naiyaravoro makes his first appearance for Northampton Saints this afternoon against Saracens.
We caught up with the newest star at Franklin's Gardens earlier this week...read our full three-page feature in today's matchday programme, available for £3.50.
‘Good things come in small packages’, or so the old adage goes, but Northampton Saints fans will be hoping that rule does not apply to new signing Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Weighing in at a whopping 124kgs (or 19st 7lbs), the Fijian-born Australia international is officially the heaviest winger in the Gallagher Premiership – but ask the man himself and Naiyaravoro insists he is far more than just a one-man wrecking ball.
So much so that in 2018 he has dedicated himself to slimming down, and the former New South Wales Waratah credits his record-breaking campaign in Super Rugby to dropping 15kgs in preseason earlier this year.
Saints fans may well have been salivating this summer watching highlights reels of the man already affectionately known as ‘Big T’ around Franklin’s Gardens barging opposition players out of his path like pins in a bowling alley.
However Naiyaravoro is adamant his destructive running will not be hampered in the immensely physical Gallagher Premiership by his dramatic weight loss; rather, he knows he can now charge even harder and for longer.
“Last season was definitely the best season I had in Super Rugby,” he said. “And that came down to a lot of hard work in preseason – I was just running non-stop for three weeks.
“That just proves that getting your head down and working hard pays off, as I wanted to get my weight down and that’s what I did. Those few weeks were torture, but once the season started I could see what I could do when my weight goes down.
“I was able to do repeat efforts far more regularly – when I was over 130kgs it would be one run and I’d be exhausted. But you need to be able to do repeat efforts to get back up off the ground and support your team, so I’m much lighter now.
“I cut down my portion sizes massively, rather than changing what I ate. My coaches were telling me that would allow me to get around the pitch a lot more, which was the big motivation for me.
“My cheat meal after a game I’d probably go for a pizza, that’s my favourite. My wife isn’t much help actually; she does my head in and cheats while I’m eating healthy.
“But it’s all worth it to feel good when I’m running on the field, when you feel something paying off you want to keep doing it.”
Read even more from Taqele in today's matchday programme, on sale at Franklin's Gardens for £3.50.