Kilcoyne weighs up his options and lifts himself to new level
Munster prop quickly feeling the benefits of his new improved fitness regime
Dave Kilcoyne: “I find that the more weights I do, the better I find I play and the better I feel.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The central cast prop actually comes with different packaging according to size and shape.
Dave Kilcoyne does himself a disservice when he claims to be a scrum-focused player who takes the tackles and ball when they come. His comments bring to mind the batsman’s old cricketing rule of thumb – of taking the ones and twos and only hittting a boundary when the right delivery arrives.
An enduring model of Munster modesty is the man nicknamed ‘Killer’.
But in his search for greater effectiveness and to push up the pecking order of props, Kilcoyne has strayed off the reservation, all with the consent of the Irish strength and conditioning coaches.
“Yeah, the main thing I look at in my game is scrumming,” he says. “If I carry or tackle that’s a bonus. Your set piece has got be rock solid.”
That’s what he will look for against the USA. But there has been an eyebrow -raising sea change in the way the Munster frontrow has decided to manage his body.
“I did a lot of change in pre-season with my diet and in terms of the amount of weight training I am doing during the week,” he says.
“I’ve seen big shifts in my body composition and the amount of weights I can do now. I’m lifting a lot more this year than I’ve ever lifted and that is benefiting me right across the game.”
An emptied Furlong and Healy coming off the field in the second half of the match against the All Blacks and straightaway donning oxygen masks may also have indicated that propping has reached a new level.
If that’s the case then needs must. Kilcoyne has not been afraid to follow what his body is telling him to do. He’s no rookie. There seems to be sense in listening to experience and instinct urging him to try something different. So he settled on some additional ‘Killer’ time.
“I’m probably doing an extra two weight sessions a week. I try and lift four to five times a week, plus a game. That’s probably the major change in my training,” he says.
“I just felt on a Sunday after a game on Saturday, the way the game is gone, props might on play 50 or 60 minutes. I felt that Sunday might be an opportunity to go in and do a weight session. To go in and get an early lift in the week. That’s an extra session done before the week even starts. I’d generally lift on my day off as well so that’s two weight sessions added on to your weekly schedule.
“I have my own beliefs about overtraining. I believe you can either under-recover or under-eat but I don’t believe you can overtrain. I know some S&Cs and others will disagree but that is my own belief.”
There might be a book somewhere in this. But lack of convention has always been the hallmark of a true Renaissance man and Munster rugby has never been short on innovation.
He hasn’t trimmed down but has added lean muscle. His Dexa scan told him he’d lost three kilos of fat and put on three kilos of muscle. All that with a ketogenic [low carb] diet.
“I wasn’t too happy just with how I was playing and then I had a great chat with Joe [Schmidt]during the Australia tour and went away and did some self-analysis, stripped down everything,” he says. “I identified areas of my life where I could improve on. Extra weights and my diet were the two areas I landed on.”
He is 29-years-old, 30 next month and maybe he’s ahead of the curve. Some of the 10 steps to innovation randomly plucked from Wikipedia tell us to Pick Small Projects... Flip Your Assumptions... Bring it to Life... Ban Things... Get Out of the Office... Get a Buddy. ...
“I find that the more weights I do, the better I find I play and the better I feel,” he says. “ Every player is different, I think.”
Killer, a new man with a new attitude and a new body. A different package entirely.