Despite being selected to Warran Gatland's Lions squad to tour New Zealand last summer, Stuart Hogg believes he let himself get to a place where his weight was becoming an issue.
The Scotland fullback has been one of the more consistent performers in recent Six Nations history, but when it came to managing and maintaining his diet, something that every professional sportsman should take very seriously, he admits his fondness of a pint of the black stuff was catching up to him and he knew that he had to make a change.
Speaking to The Telegraph ahead of Scotland's clash with Samoa this weekend, it emerged that Hogg managed to shed an impressive 20 pounds by cutting out Guinness, described as his 'guilty pleasure'.
Hogg says that giving up his guilty pleasure of Guinness, losing 9kg (20lb) and then maintaining his target weight of 92-94kgs (roughly 14st 8lbs) has added an edge to his game.
The realisation came at Scotland teammate Duncan Weir's wedding.
Hogg was one of the ushers, so naturally he was fitted for his suit about six months in advance of the wedding. To his horror, when the big day came, he realised that he could barely fit into the jacket, and knew that a change needed to be made.
I was sick of seeing photos of how fat I was getting, so I decided to shed a few pounds. It was mainly after the summer. I knew I was getting a shoulder op and I had the potential to balloon. I actually took the decision at Duncie Weir’s wedding in July, where I was an usher, and I was struggling to get the jacket shut from the measurements taken six months earlier.
It’s made a difference in terms of how I look and how I play but also in terms of life in general, which makes it sound like I’ve been in rehab! I lost about nine kilos and then managed to put a couple back on when the shoulder was building back up again.
I was quick last year but now it’s roughly similar scores but more consistent and I feel I can go for longer as well. I’m never going to be a guy who can run over the top of people so I need to be in a position where I can go around them or step them. I also did a lot of speedwork when I was injured and hopefully that will help.
It wasn't just Guinness, but take-aways too, which Hogg used to allow himself before realising that his weight had become a problem.
You would think that someone who plays professional rugby at an international level, and indeed for the Lions, would have physicians and sports scientists to inform them about their dietary needs, so was this sort of advice offered to Hogg?
Yeah, I just wasn’t listening.
Fair enough. Honesty is the best policy.
It should be mentioned that Hogg was hardly a slouch even when he was knocking down pints, but now he feels he has added that extra step to his game, so fair to him for making a change.