You might not believe it if you saw Phil Price dance 30 metres down the touchline to score a decisive try against Edinburgh last weekend, but the Newport Gwent Dragons prop admits he’s spent the summer piling on the pounds to push his case for a first-team spot.
Taking on the lineout duties, Price took a quick return before tearing off with Edinburgh in pursuit, crossing the whitewash to put the Dragons 17-7 ahead at the break in a match they would win 32-12.
The game marked the Dragons' first victory in four games in the RaboDirect PRO12 and a fourth start in five for Price – a far cry from last term when he made the first XV just eight times.
A bout of illness had robbed the 23-year-old of some of his vital strength and weight which he struggled to recover before the season was out.
But after confirming a plan of attack with the Dragons’ coaches he hit the gym hard this summer, regaining the weight he had lost and putting him in position to nail down the No.1 shirt.
“It was my first try this season and the first try I had scored since we played Wasps in the LV= Cup last year,” he said.
“So I was pretty happy to get that and it was a nice little run in for me as well. As a team we needed it as well because it came just before half-time.
“I didn’t expect to be starting as many games as I have been because I didn’t get that many starts last season but it has really built my confidence up.
“I was disappointed last season and I was really running out of ideas as to what I could do to improve my game and get myself in the team.
“Over the summer I focussed on getting myself bigger. I lost a bit of weight last year when I was ill and it was hard to get it back but I’ve worked hard to bulk myself up and I’m bigger now and I feel in great shape.
“The coaches gave me a target and I worked at it and it was great to reach a goal and get the reward.”
While Price has been bulking up, his touchline dash showed he’s not lost all the attacking instincts that saw him start life as a full-back at Brynteg Comprehensive School.
Quickly progressing to the back row, by 15 Price was firmly lodged in the front row and by 2008 he was part of the Wales Under-20s squad at the World Cup but the Ospreys opted against offering a full-time deal.
Two years at Bridgend followed before a switch to Bedwas brought him to the attention of the Dragons where he is now aiming to become a regular feature.
“My aim is to really nail down a starting place and if I can do that, especially with the European games coming up, that would be great,” he added.
“We’ve got six or seven front rows at the club, looseheads and tightheads, so you know if you don’t perform there is somebody able to take your place.
“The average age is only about 24 and we are all young so it is healthy competition for us all to have, I want to keep my position and if I can do that then who knows what might follow.”