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Bath’s Tom Dunn told to lose jelly belly for England

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Neale Harvey

Bath hooker Tom Dunn has ramped up his bid for an England tour spot after revealing how stern words from Eddie Jones forced him to change his lardy ways.

Highly-rated Dunn was invited to England’s training camp last August after recovering from a broken ankle but was warned by Jones that he needed to address his body shape in order to have a Test future – advice he has taken on board with encouraging results.

Dunn, 25, told The Rugby Paper: “I was shocked to be called into that camp last August as I hadn’t actually trained much after my injury, but it was quite a nice feeling knowing the work I’d done hadn’t gone unnoticed and they’d been thinking about me.

“Eddie was pretty up front, though, as he is, and he basically said that I needed to be less fat, have more lean mass and to keep working on my throwing. I know I’m not the most gifted athlete in terms of body shape so I agreed with his assessment.

“He wanted me to be bigger and more powerful, too, so since then I’ve worked hard with England’s nutritionist, Graeme Close, and our guys at Bath and I’ve put on three or four kilos over the season whilst getting my skinfolds down by 20 millimetres.

“I’ve transformed my diet – less bread and potatoes, more vegetables, chicken and fish – and I’m 110kgs now, up from 107kgs last year, and much leaner now rather than being jelly.

“You feel more powerful, you’re stronger and that’s the route I’m going down. I’ve never been the strongest so that’s been a big work-on, as well as body strength, acceleration and leg drive, and if you can improve one thing it can impact on all the others.”

Dunn’s all-action potential saw him called into England squads during November and the Six Nations, before a gruesome injury, in which he dislocated two fingers against Northampton in early February, scuppered his immediate hopes of a first Test cap.

He explained: “It was great being involved in the weeks I was there; you learn pretty quickly because if you don’t learn quickly you’re not involved for long.

“Unfortunately I got injured and they had a look at Luke Cowan-Dickie instead, which means I’m down to fourth choice or lower in the pecking order, but while the injury looked horrible, neither finger was broken and everything healed pretty well.

“I came back against Exeter recently and the challenge for me now is to play well for Bath, keep doing the extras they and England ask of me and, hopefully, I’ll get a chance to tour South Africa this summer, which is something I’d really love to do.”

Whilst the impending birth of his second child on June 5 could complicate tour selection, Dunn is determined to apply the heat to established pair Dylan Hartley and Jamie George.

He added: “We’ll cross that bridge when it comes but I’ve got an understanding wife. Those boys (Hartley and George) have earned their spots and you’ve got to bide your time, but I’ll keep working and, hopefully, get a chance to wear that jersey.”

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