SUMMER signing Corey Hircock is living the double dream at Coventry.
The 25-year-old centre is revelling in his return to playing after missing the majority of last season with a tendon injury, and has also been given the opportunity to work as the club’s nutritionist as he starts his final year of university studies for a degree as a performance nutritionist.
It’s a win-win situation for Hircock who, a Bedford Academy product, spent three years at Munster and played for Ireland Under-20s before returning to Bedford and going from there to Cambridge for the last two seasons.
“When I was at Munster I was, if you like, a ‘victim’ of their nutritionist, Dr Graeme Close, who is one of the most respected people in his field,” said Hircock. “I worked closely with him and I was just fascinated at the way he could naturally enhance your performance as a rugby player, and that spurred me on to want to study myself.
“I’m trying to preach what I learn, it can be difficult at times, but I believe we’re getting some good results from the boys I’m working with and they are buying into it.
“Most of the boys are in quite good shape and look after their diet and nutrition quite well, but the players I’m working closely with wanted to be helped and came forward themselves.
“Legally, as a student, I’m not allowed to give out diet plans, but I am able to guide them in making the right choices and enlighten them by giving them a healthy option.
“It’s slightly more difficult with athletes because you don’t want to hinder their performance at the weekend. With the general public you can go on a fat-loss programme where it’s literally just reducing calorie intake, but for an athlete it’s a case of keeping the protein high, keeping the healthy fats from good sources and carbohydrates to the right levels, and trying to get rid of any sugar.”
Hircock admits that he jumped at the opportunity to come to Coventry when offered the chance by director of rugby, Rowland Winter.
“Last season was very frustrating. I took a blow to my Achilles on November 9 which I’ve only just come back from, and I missed out on the promotion run. I was there on the sidelines, cheering the boys, and it was nice to be involved, but I would have liked to have been on the pitch.
“The surgeon said he thought I should retire from rugby, with a tendon – especially the Achilles – it is always difficult, and I did go to a dark place, but I’ve come through it with hard work and I’m back playing which is amazing.
“No club really wants to take the risk with a player who has had an injury like that, but Rowland said he could still see great potential in me and that I would come back even stronger, and that he would like me to be in his plans.
“I was grateful for that, family and friends back you but for a coach to say that he is backing you is a real boost
““Rugby is a priority at the moment, I want to get back to where I was. I get a lot of attention from the physios, patching me up ready for the weekend, and so far, so good.
“Then before I signed, Rowland asked if I’d be interested in helping out within the squad as a nutritionist, using what I am learning at university within the regulations of what I can do as a student.
“The whole thing was an unbelievable offer, and I greatly appreciate that and the belief shown in me.”