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Lewis-Hughes determined to return stronger than ever

First Team News | 15th August 2021

Shane Lewis-Hughes is determined to bounce back from his injury set-back and return stronger than ever ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

The Welsh international, who made his Test debut during last season’s Autumn Nations Cup, has returned to pre-season training after recovering from a shoulder injury he picked up during the 2020/21 season.

The back row admits it’s been a frustrating few months on the sidelines but, with light at the end of the tunnel, he’s now itching for the new season to kick off.

“I’m very good. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a very frustrating time missing all the rugby I have in the last five or six months,” said the academy product.

“I’ve been back into rugby with the boys for the last two or three weeks and it’s been brilliant. I’m slowly feeling like a rugby player again. It’s been tough, but really good and we’re working on the new system with Jockey. It’s exciting times ahead.  

“I suppose when you start doing well, you want to continue like everyone does. When you sign up to rugby, you know it’s the nature of the beast and that injuries will happen. 

“Unfortunately, there is no good time to get an injury and now I’m focusing on getting back to where I was. Hopefully, I can try and get even better from there.  

“It wasn’t a great time, but I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. But, to be honest, when you’re in professional sport you’re quite lucky. 

“You get seen privately and you’re entitled to a lot of privileges others aren’t as fortunate to have. As soon as I needed the operation, I was in and with the class physio team we have I was looked after very well. They did a great job with me.

“I’ve just got to everything I can now to improve and take each week as it comes.  

“I’ve got to prove myself again really. We’ve got so many good back-rowers and youngsters coming through too. 

“Unfortunately, that’s the position everyone wants to play in Wales now. If international honours happen, they happen but I’m not looking at that just yet. My first aim is to get back into the Cardiff team.”

Lewis-Hughes was one of a number of Cardiff stars who made their mark on the international stage over the last year, with the likes of James Botham and Willis Halaholo also making their Test debuts while Josh Turnbull and Lloyd Williams earned long-awaited returns to the Wales set-up.

However, the back row star is fully focused on keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground as he looks to make a return to Wayne Pivac’s squad while continuing to develop as a player.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s everybody’s dream to play for Wales. If a player tells you anything different, they’d be lying,” explained the Welsh international.

“My main focus now is to have a good pre-season, keep working on my strengths, and improve. If I do get an opportunity to play for Cardiff, I need to take it.  

“Having five months off with my shoulder allowed me to work on a lot of leg power, strength and speed. 

“Those were things I needed to work on to help with my ball carrying and attacking game. In pre-season I’ve already seen the benefits of that. I feel more agile and a lot faster than I ever did before so I’m really excited to play.  

“I’ve actually put on four kilos. I’m 115 kilos at the moment which is probably a bit heavy for me but I’m actually finding it OK.

“It’s important to find the right balance between being strong in the carry and being fit enough to maintain it for 80 minutes. I’m feeling really good at the moment.  

“I know what my areas to improve are and I’m excited now for the games to come around. 

“We want to have a big pre-season together and get on the same page as individuals. If we do that we’ll be fine as a team. It’s exciting with Dai in charge and Matt coming back. We’re really looking forward to the season starting.” 

Following his involvement in the Test arena, the former Coleg y Cymoedd pupil drew comparisons with Alun Wyn Jones for his drive, determination, attitude and work rate around the camp.

The British & Irish Lions captain, who made a dramatic recovery from injury to feature in all three of the summer Tests against South Africa, is certainly an inspiration to Lewis-Hughes’ and he feels he benefitted from working up-close and personal with the world’s most capped international.

“You’re not the most capped player in world rugby history without having an insane work ethic. When I was with Wales, he was the first on the training pitch and the last off,” added the Cardiff product.

“He’s an inspiring character and I had a couple of conversations with him about how he goes about his training and preparation. 

“He’s probably the best second row to have ever played the game and it was no surprise to me he came back that quickly. 

“It holds everyone accountable because he sets the bar that high. It makes you think ‘Am I doing everything I can?’ when you see someone like him come back from a dislocated shoulder in two weeks.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Al – he’s just amazing.”