Premiership stars dish dirt on teammates and select strongest rugby players
"He's a real gym monkey and he'll want me to say him!"
We asked a host of Gallagher Premiership stars to name the strongest rugby players in their squad, and there were plenty of candidates suggested.
After weeks stacked upon weeks of the pre-season grind, the best clubs in Europe are returning to action. The Top 14 got going, last weekend, and the coming weekend will see the Premiership back at it, and on our TV screens with BT Sport. The following week sees the United Rugby Championship kick off.
We sent Stella Mills along to the Gallagher Premiership 2022/23 season launch at Twickenham Stadium and got the low-down on some of rugby's biggest gym rats (or gym monkeys, as Stuart Hogg prefers it).
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
The England and Lions prop says there are 'a few' big units in the Tigers squad that can push a considerable amount of tin.
"We have Hosea Saumaki, who is a winger that is incredibly strong, ripped and powerful. There's Kini Murimurivalu. He doesn't look as strong as he is but he was carrying something massive about the other day."
As for the Tigers player in the squad that would lick himself if he was an ice cream, Cole names Freddie Burns. "He could spend all day looking himself in the mirror, could Freddie. But, considering what he did last season [kicked the league-clinching drop goal], he can do what he wants."
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs)
"I can't really comment on the [Exeter] forwards, as we're never in with them, but their gym sessions are a massive pissing contest. They love to try and out-muscle each other.
"With the backs, Ian Whitten, for 45 years old, is incredibly strong, and seems to be getting better and better each year. For consistency, I'd go Ian. Jack Nowell is pretty strong, as well, but he's a real gym monkey and he'll want me to say him! He loves it. But I'll go Ian Whitten."
While he was at it, the Scotland and Lions fullback also threw some shade at his Exeter Chiefs teammate, Henry Slade:
No-one is safe when Stuart Hogg has the mic.
Steve Luatua (Bristol Bears)
"That's an easy enough question," says the former All Blacks back-row.
"Strongest player in the gym would definitely be Max Lahiff. He was born in the gym - I honestly think he was. He's chiselled to a tee, he lifts heavy and he's actually moving really quick. As I said, born in the gym."
Alex Goode (Saracens)
"In the backs, Roti Segun is extremely powerful. Nick Tompkins is very strong, in the backs. I don't do weights with the forwards, so I wouldn't know. But Ben Earl is extremely powerful for a small man."
Asked for Sarries' vainest player in the senior squad, Goode was quick to pin that title on Alex Lozowski and remarked, "He'll deny it, though. He's a very good looking bloke but if Owen Farrell came in and said, 'What's going on with your lid, at the moment?' then Alex would go get a hair-cut, straight away."
Gabriel Oghre (Wasps)
"If it's who lifts the most, it has to be Biyi Alo. He's crazy strong," says the Wasps hooker. "Ben Harris would be annoyed if I didn't mention him so, there you go. Them two are battling it out.
Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish)
"Henry Arundell can squat a lot," said the England winger. "But I'll go with one of our new signings - Tom Hitchcock from Exeter. He's a beast. He does the squat bench, quite a bit. He can squat a lot."
Augustin Creevy of London Irish was also interviewed on the day and the Argentine selected Lovejoy Chawatama as 'strongest rugby player' in the Exiles gym.
"He loves himself, too," joked Creevy about the Zimbabwean prop.
BT Sport is the home of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. The new season kicks off with Bristol Bears v Bath Rugby at 7pm on BT Sport 1 on Friday, September 9.