Everyone sees me as the heavyweight locking option for Scotland but I am actually now the lightest second row in the squad.
The talk over the last year or so was about me adding bulk alongside relative ‘whippets’ like Richie Gray – but now Richie is actually heavier than me.
I made a conscious decision that I needed to trim down in order to keep pace with how the game is changing.
I have worked long and hard on my conditioning and my speed – and with the help of Gloucester’s head conditioner Barny Allen I have lost 10kgs.
So now I tip the scales at 119kgs.
I guess that means I’m probably not Big Jim anymore!
I know I’m never going to be running in tries from the wing, but I want to be able to add that half yard of sharpness around the field, and offer more where I can.
I’ve noticed the difference this season at Gloucester with charging down a few more kicks, and being able to get in opposition faces that bit sooner.
So I feel good and right now at the peak of my fitness.
I want to keep playing international and Premiership rugby for as long as possible, and that means adapting along with the game.
I would also love to represent the British Lions if possible too, it’s a huge ambition to push and push towards.
The game is getting faster all the time, so I felt it would be a big help for myself, but also hopefully for Gloucester and Scotland if I could add another level of sharpness.
I’m lucky with my natural physique and general dimensions that I have a fair bit of bulk in any case, so I didn’t really need that extra weight.
Hopefully this will allow me still to offer all the tight work, but add to my game elsewhere too.
There’s a positive feeling around Scottish rugby at the moment, so heading into the Six Nations is exciting.
We had a talk in the week from the new chief executive Mark Dodson, who really seems to know what he is doing and he has a great vision to bring in extra investment to Scottish rugby.
That’s great news and there are some exciting steps being taken off the field, but now we’ve got to match them on it.
The club sides have been going well and Edinburgh qualifying for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals is massive.
That club level buzz is transferring I think to ticket sales and interest around the RBS Six Nations, and that really does rub off on the players, who all hugely appreciate that support.
There’s been a change of mood with a few fresh faces and this new exciting vision off the field – and now we need to captalise and produce the kind of results we know we can, but haven’t managed in the last few years.
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