Slimmed-down Sleightholme says weight loss key to England call-up

football12 June 2024 12:32| © AFP
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Ollie Sleightholme © Getty Images

Northampton wing Ollie Sleightholme says rejecting the bulking-up programme that helped transform his club teammates into Premiership champions paved the way for a call-up into the England rugby squad.

The dashing wing will aim to make his international debut on the upcoming tour of Japan and New Zealand after a superb domestic season where Northampton won the English Premiership title and Sleigtholme himself finished as the league's top try-scorer.

Many players, in response to an era of professional rugby featuring ever more crunching tackles, have decided to add muscle in a bid to maintain their careers.

But the 24-year-old son of former Northampton, Bath and England wing Jon Sleightholme has bucked the trend.

"There's a fine line between being too big and being in a good spot," said Ollie Sleightholme ahead of the England squad's departure for Japan.

He added: "I went from 90 kilos to 98 kilos in four-and-a-half or five weeks... I got to the end of it and the strength and conditioning coaches said 'well done for doing it', and I was like 'I can't play this heavy, it's not going to work'.

"The turning is the difficult bit. When you're a bit heavier, turning and moving and changing direction is when you feel it.

"I'm now somewhere around 92 kilos, so just a couple of kilos heavier than where I was. A weight of 92/93 is probably where I want to be."


Sleightholme, who scored a try in Northampton's thrilling 25-21 Premiership final win over Bath at Twickenham on Saturday, is one of six Saints backs in the England squad.

And with a short turnaround until England play Japan in Tokyo on 22 June, Sleightholme hopes an understanding formed at club level will bolster his chances of test selection.

"Having a few of the lads that have been here (for England), played a lot here, having them to give me advice and talk through things and help me settle in has been really, really helpful," said Sleightholme.

"With the bonds, that would translate to test level as well because I think if it's there, it's there."

After the Japan match, England play two tests against the All Blacks, in Dunedin and Auckland, on 6 and 13 July.