Round 3 of Six Nations

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I think I may have put the mockers on the six nations after my last post in which I spoke of the free flowing rugby we had seen so far. Last weekends matches saw a few scrappy affairs, especially the game at Murrayfield where there wasn’t a single try scored. It was however, a fantastic win for the Scots and one that nobody would have predicted before the competition began.

I think Phillipe Saint Andre must be reading this blog as he finally picked his players in the position they play as I recommended last time. Morgan Parra started at scrum half and Wesley Fofana started in the centres rather than on the wing. The French were very competitive up until around 50 minutes when Saint Andre decided to make substitutions and the whole thing went to pot for the French. After the introduction of Freddie Michalak the French really lacked any structure and England just had too much power on the bench in the end. The other game of the weekend saw Italy take on Wales in a wet Rome. The Welsh eventually pulled away but it was very competitive up to half time.

Recovery from my injury is going slowly at the minute and it is just a case of trying to get full range back, which you can imagine is difficult with it being in a sling for the past month. This involves a lot of painful massages from the physios and some light rehab exercises. Hopefully I will have some more interesting updates in the near future when I can start exercising again.

6 months with iGO

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Last week I received my new iGO lenses after 6 months with my old pair. The six months has really flown by and I can’t believe the difference iGO has made, not only to me playing rugby but also in general life.

Being a professional rugby player definitely has its perks and at the end of the season we get around a month off before we have to return to training. Some people go travelling during this time, while others just stay at home and play golf everyday. This is another area where iGO has helped me, in my golf game. I can now actually see where the ball has gone, usually not very far and not very straight, without having to worry about taking my glasses or making sure I put my contact lenses in.

Before I went on holiday I suffered from an eye infection and so the opticians recommended that I didn’t take my lenses away with me and instead just used an antibiotic eye drop. When  I returned from holiday, after a week of not wearing my iGO lenses, I honestly felt blind. I had really forgot what it was like not being able to see perfectly, I had to wear my glasses to drive and watch tv for a day. I went to the opticians as soon as I could to try to get my new lenses and return to normal sight. It might sound silly but honestly once you have worn the iGO lenses and experienced perfect vision you can’t go back to how you were.

This week I will posting some video blogs explaining more about my iGO experience.

First rugby game with no lenses

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When I first spoke to my optician about using the iGO lenses, she did mention that at night there may be glare from car headlights and floodlights due to me having quite large pupils. For the first couple of nights I did notice that their was a slight glare when driving at night and so I did worry about whether this may affect me in a match and I wouldn’t be able to see the ball coming out of the floodlights. However night games have not been a problem and after over a month of wearing the lenses the glare of headlights has also begun to wear off.

Playing without lenses just takes a weight of your mind as you don’t have to worry about giving the physio a spare set of lenses or trying to get them in mid way through a game, you can just concentrate fully on the match.

England v Italy – England win in Rome the snow 15 – 19 in the Stadio Olimpico

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As part of my iGO blog I am also going to start reporting on games from the six nations. With the Ireland and France game called off ten minutes before kick off, there were only two games played. The first saw England travel to Rome to take on Italy in the snow. My mum and dad were lucky enough to go to the game but I don’t think they got the feeling back in their toes for at least 2 hours after the match finished, it was freezing.I thought England showed signs of improvement from the game against Scotland and it could have been easy to lose in Rome and just blame the weather, but to come back from behind at half time and win showed a lot of character, something which I think will be a common trait in Stuart Lancaster’s England team. I think Lancaster will have some major selection headaches leading into the Wales game with the return of Manu Tuilagi, Courtney Lawes and Toby Flood. I will be very interested to see who is selected and who is left out.

Waking Up with Perfect Vision

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The iGO lenses were so simple to put in before I went to bed, even though I had never really used contact lenses before. The lenses feel slightly uncomfortable when you first put them in, the nearest thing I could compare it to is when you get a bit of dust in your eye. After about 30 seconds however this discomfort begins to wear off and as soon as you close your eyes to go to sleep it really feels like there is nothing in your eye (apart from an eye-ball).

In the morning I put in some eye drops, which are just artificial tear drops to make the eye moist so the taking out of the lens is easy, and it was off to the opticians so they could see if the lenses had sat perfectly on my eye and then I could take the lenses out. Because the lenses are quite hard they are actually really simple to take out, much easier than the softer daily contact lenses I had used a few years ago.Just apply pressure from the top and bottom and they flick out, into the solution they go and they are ready again for the night.

There it was, perfect vision. It is quite strange being able to see perfectly again without the need for glasses or lenses. It feels almost as if you have cheated the system, its brilliant.

On another note, did anybody watch the Northampton Saints and Bath rugby game on Sky at the weekend? The game had to stop at one point because Paul Diggin, the Northampton Full Back, had to replace a contact lens. I don’t have to worry about such things now, but I am trying to spread the word to other sports people about the over night lenses. Honestly just give it a try and you won’t have to worry about losing a lens in whatever activity your involved in.

Hay fever!

Unfortunately I suffer quite badly from hay fever. I get all the usual symptoms, sneezing, runny nose and that feeling of wanting to rub your eyes constantly when they are itchy. As a normal lens wearer many of you will know itchy eyes are made even worse when you’re wearing lenses. Pollen actually gets underneath the lens which causes symptoms to get even worse which causes even more rubbing and more irritation.

Thankfully with the iGO overnight lenses you don’t have to worry about this extra irritation and you can take hay fever eye drops which would normally not be an option for daily lens wearers.

Unfortunately iGo lenses don’t get rid of the sneezing but any help with eye irritation is awesome and much appreciated especially when playing a sport which relies on your reaction time.

I am going on holiday to Thailand tomorrow and with the help of my overnight lenses I wont have to worry about losing a lens in the sea or taking 20 daily lenses with me.

For more information on how iGo could help with hay fever visit: http://igolenses.co.uk/Contact-Lenses-For-Allergies-and-hayfever.html

What a weekend of rugby!

This year I will be covering the six nations again and giving a brief report of what I thought of the matches. This years six nations tournament has been the best for many years in my opinion. All the teams seem to be trying to play an exciting brand of rugby,when weather permits, and actually trying to score some tries rather than simply focussing on winning.

The first game of the weekend between Scotland and Italy was a cracking game. Scotland have a really exciting back line with some serious pace on the wings and at full back with Stuart Hogg. They combine the lightning fast back line with a tough forward pack that will go toe to toe with any of the other packs in the championship. I would not be surprised if we see Scotland cause an upset against France or Wales later in the tournament.

The second game on Saturday was between France and Wales and was rather a drab affair compared to the game earlier in the day. I think both teams are struggling for form and are very low on confidence. The great thing about the BBC coverage of the six nations this year is the insight you get from SIr Clive Woodward. After the game he discussed the selection policy of Phillipe Saint-Andre, the French coach, and how he was picking players out of position. I could not have agreed with SIr Clive anymore, the French coach continues to pick players out of position and is trying to build a team full of stars rather than a star team which Stuart Lancaster, the England coach, is successfully building.

The final game of the weekend saw Ireland take on England. Although there were no tries scored the intensity and physicality on show was awesome. The weather conditions definitely affected the way both teams could play the game and meant that both teams had to play more of a kicking game rather than the keeping the ball in hand. It was however a fantastic England performance against a very strong Irish side.

Unfortunately I am currently injured and I underwent shoulder surgery last week. However, over the next few weeks I will keep you updated on how my injury is progressing and what sort of training I have been able to do. As a professional sportsman the worst time of your career is when you are injured, there is nothing worse than watching your team mates give everything and you just being stood on the sideline watching. It is part of the game however and over the next few weeks I will give you an insight into how I have been dealing with my injury.

My third set of lenses arrive!

Today I collected my third set of iGO lenses. The lenses really have made a massive difference not only to my everyday life but also to me playing rugby.

Last weekend we travelled down to play Cornish Pirates in Penzance. This involved a 7 hour coach journey there and back. Before I started using iGO lenses this would have meant wearing contact lenses for the journey, which by the end would have become dry and irritable. Luckily my eyesight isnt too bad, so I dont have to wear the lenses every night. This is particularly usefully when we go on long away trips because it means I don’t have to worry about packing any lenses.

This weekend we travel down to London to take on London Scottish. We have talked alot as a team about making this our first away win of the season. I will report back next week letting you know how we got on.

Big game in Yorkshire

Tomorrow is a big Yorkshire derby as Leeds Carnegie take on Rotherham Titans. Although we are now relying on other results in order to progress to the semi finals, we know we must win all our remaining games to stand any chance of progressing.

After losing at home to Rotherham a month ago, the feeling in the squad is that we really owe the Titans one. We feel like we let ourselves down infront of our home fans and tomorrow we want to make up for it.

I will blog next week letting you know how we got on and hopefully we will still be in the hunt for a semi final spot.

Converted my sister

As the title of this new post suggests I have converted my sister to iGO lenses. She has just started wearing the lenses overnight and she is already seeing the benefits of perfect vision. She no longer has to wear contact lenses at work which were becoming very uncomfortable, especially later in the day.

In other news, Stuart Lancaster has been given the full time England job until 2016. As I worte a few weeks ago, this was a no brainer for me and I am really looking forward to seeing how the England team progress under his guidance.

Lanny for England

What a great win that was for England at the weekend!! The forwards matched the big powerful French pack and the backs did very well against a skilful French back line. For me, the win in Paris confirms that Stuart Lancaster should be put in permanent control of the England side. With Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, the trio make up an exciting English coaching team.

During my academy days at Leeds I was lucky enough to be coached by Stuart Lancaster on a few occasions. He is a fantastic coach and makes sure players are working as hard as they can in order to reach their potential. I really believe he would be a fantastic appointment as England Head Coach.

Anyway back to the playing side of things. With Tom Croft returning to the form he showed on the Lions Tour to South Africa and Manu Tuilagi busting holes through a strong French back line, this England team is going to have a very bright future. Elsewhere this weekend, Ireland beat Scotland and Wales beat Italy at the Millenium Stadium. This means that Wales can  complete the grand slam if they can beat France, while Ireland and England battle it out for second spot and Scotland play Italy for the dreaded wooden spoon.

I think this weekends game against the Irish will be another step up for a young English team against a much more experienced side. However, if England do win this weekend, the RFU will need a very strong argument not to appoint Stuart Lancaster on a more permanent basis.

All square in Paris for Ireland against France

What a game in Paris today. In my opinion, Ireland deserved to go away with the win, but the French team really seem to have that winning desire this year, something which has been missing with France in recent years.

As a back rower myself, I find that area particularly interesting. For me, Ireland have the best back row in the competition. With Ferris, Heaslip and O’Brien they have speed, power and skill, particularly at the breakdown. France also have an exceptional back row, with Dusautoir leading the way. In today’s game I thought Ireland really dominated the breakdown and this was the reason why the French could not get into the game, until the second half.

Next week sees England take on France, which will again be another step up for Lancaster’s team. I think England will struggle upfront against the French, particularly in the scrum where France are very strong. However, if England can contest the breakdown, like Ireland did today, then we may have another close game on our hands.