Lego and lavender: England's Nowell reveals recovery secrets

Tokyo (AFP) –


England winger Jack Nowell has revealed an unusual recipe for recovery after he bounced back from serious injury to make an instant impact on the Rugby World Cup: Lego and lavender.

The Exeter Chiefs speedster badly injured his ankle in the English Premiership final and then suffered another setback as he had his appendix removed just weeks before the start of the World Cup.

But the 26-year-old made a sensational comeback against Argentina, coming on for the last 12 minutes and scoring with virtually his first touch of the ball, bouncing off several defensive tackles and, as he put it, "sneaking into the corner".

"I'm just very thankful to be back on the pitch, back involved with the boys," a beaming Nowell said after the match.

The road to recovery has been long -- Exeter lost a nail-biter 37-34 to Saracens at Twickenham back on June 1 -- and the British and Irish Lion admitted there were "lots of times" he thought he would not feature in Japan.

He paid tribute to England physio David O'Sullivan (known as "Dos"), with whom he said he was spending 80 percent of his time after the injury.

"There's been a lot of hours spent with them (the physios). A lot of hours spent with Mako as well," asid Nowell, referring to prop Vunipola, who also returned from a long-term injury against Argentina.

"Feels a bit weird now because obviously, we're flying the nest a bit, but he's always there to look after us," laughed Nowell, who admitted he will miss spending time with O'Sullivan, who "likes a beer, let's put it that way".

- Natural oils -

Coach Eddie Jones stuck with him despite the injury, and a fit-again Nowell brings ferocious competition for a shirt in the England back three, with Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly all in excellent form.

Also pushing for a place are rampaging Fijian-born winger Joe Cokanasiga and sevens specialist Ruaridh McConnochie.

"It's good isn't it? It's only good for England. There's no negative sides to that," said Nowell. "When you've got boys who are that good in the back three, you've got to be at your best every single day."

Nowell revealed he was fit to play against the United States but Jones preferred to give him an extra week of recovery and training before unleashing him off the bench against Argentina -- to lethal effect.

Recovery has been frustrating, especially with the late appendicitis setback that threatened to rule him out of the World Cup entirely, regardless of his progress with the ankle.

"I've been kind of close to coming back and then I've hit a bit of a hurdle. But for me, I've driven so hard to try to be involved in this World Cup," said Nowell, paying tribute to Jones for sticking by him.

His competitors for a back-three place are also aware of the threat a fit-again Nowell poses. May has described him as "world-class" and Watson said: "He is a very special player and will be driving the back-three players along. He looks very sharp."

Nowell said the England team had been dabbling in ping-pong competitions and a lot of impromptu cricket to take their mind off rugby, but the wing himself took up unusual hobbies during his recovery.

"I'm still into my Lego, taken a few sets out with me," he said.

"My natural oils, I'm very interested in. So I've got my natural oils. I've got a diffuser in my bedroom, so lavender helps me with sleeping and little things like that, anything different away from rugby.

"But a lot of time is spent on rehab and on getting myself fit... I've not had time to scratch my arse, to be honest with you!"