How you are coping with the current lockdown due to COVID-19?
“Initially, it was very disappointing. My rugby 7s teammates and I were down in the dumps. We were within touching distance of going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"What we realised after a couple of days was that it has given us another year on the world series to improve, get better, get stronger and to become more cohesive as a team. It gives us a better chance in the long run of getting to the Olympics.
"It’s obviously very tough for everybody, but the whole world is in the same boat. It’s the same with all sporting events across the world.”
Tell us about your everyday diet and how you incorporate milk into your daily routine?
“Until I became the Irish ambassador for ‘Everything Starts with Milk’ campaign, I didn’t realise how much milk I use!
"In the morning I have milk in my porridge, milk in my protein shake, milk in my tea and milk after every session.
"I particularly like to have it after an intense training session as it helps me address the three Rs of recovery by providing a natural source of protein to assist my muscles repair, helps refuel the body by providing a natural source of carbohydrate and helps rehydrate by being a fluid with electrolytes.
"Of course, these benefits are a main focus for me after sport, but it's great also knowing I am getting important nutrients as well from milk such as calcium, B vitamins and iodine. So yes, as you can tell, I am a big fan of milk and it plays a massive role in my daily routine.”
How long have you been playing rugby?
“I started playing rugby when I was five and I absolutely hated it, so I didn’t go back until I was eight. I just didn’t like the contact element of it at all. From eight, I’ve been playing it ever since.”
What are the main highlights of your rugby career to date?
“The main highlight of my rugby career so far was this time last year. We qualified for the World Series and won it in Hong Kong last year. It was the proudest moment of my life as an Irishman. It took four years, but we got there!”
What does it feel like to play for your country and was it always your ambition?
“Putting on the green jersey is amazing. Like any young rugby player, my initial goal was to play for my province and then the Ireland 15s. That didn’t work out for me, my career went a different path with injuries.
"I got picked up by the 7s team and I’ve never been happier. The lifestyle is amazing and you get to represent your country all over the world. I’ve landed on my feet really!”
How do you gear yourself up ahead of your matches?
“Some of the lads would listen to music, some might have to put one boot on before the other, but I wouldn’t have any real superstitions like that.
"The big thing for me is knowing that I’m prepared, that I’ve done the proper training during the week, that I’ve slept well, that I’ve eaten and drank properly and that I’m ready to go mentally. It’s more about preparation rather than getting a pre-match stimulus.”
Who are your rugby idols?
“Growing up, I really looked up to Doug Howlett and Jason Robinson.”
Top tips for mental health and well-being during these tough times
“Two big things for me are routine and exercise. Just because we are experiencing different living circumstances, you shouldn’t be staying up until 4am in the morning and eating foods you wouldn’t normally eat. I think that you should try to stick to the same schedule that you’ve always had.
"Another thing for me is getting some exercise in. Even going for walks two to three times per week, that stimulus and release of endorphins will make you feel so much better.”
What advice would you give young rugby players today as they begin their sporting journey?
"It’s really so simple. You need to do the training that you are told and have a balanced diet that provides all of the nutrients and foods you need to fuel up for your training session and matches; and ensure you recover well afterwards.
"So, I would say to my younger self to train right and get the right nutrition - couldn’t be simpler!”
Tell us about your role with the National Dairy Council
“Last year, I became the Irish ambassador for the European campaign ‘Everything Starts with Milk’.
"We try to encourage people to drink quality milk in Europe. It’s great to be on board with the team at NDC because I can see myself the healthy lifestyle that it brings about and supporting local.
"Dairy is just amazing and it’s important to support the farmers that are working so hard and produce such a top-quality product. I’m delighted and proud to be working with the National Dairy Council.”
10 reps with a 10 second hold on final rep.
Walk out into a plank and back up for 10s.
5 reps for each side.
You can do as many as you like but I’d recommend three rounds of each. Check out my video on the Irish Country Living website to find out how the routine goes!
For more information on sports nutrition, visit www.ndc.ie/nutrition/sports-nutrition.