Loss boosts Ben's belief
Bruising Bath centre Ben Williams says his confidence as a player has never been higher after shedding more than a stone during pre-season.
Like fellow inside centre Matt Banahan, whose knee injury has opened the first-team door for Williams, the hard-hitting back has been on a weight-loss programme under the guidance of the club's new high performance manager, Allan Ryan.
Williams, who now tips the scales at 15-and-a-half stone, has had more than his share of injuries during his young career but believes he is more resilient than ever thanks to a fresh fitness regime.
And that, he says, is bolstering his confidence.
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"Allan came in with strict, high standards and you have to abide by them, otherwise it's not good enough," said Williams, pictured.
"I've lost a lot of weight. Physically I feel fitter. I've lost nearly seven kilos since the start of pre-season. I feel like I'm moving quicker and in my head I feel better as a result.
"I'm a lot fitter than I was and although I'm faster I've not lost any of my strength. It was a good pre-season to lose that bit of weight.
"It's pretty similar to what happened with Matt. He and I were worked hard to get down to those weights and now it's about keeping to them."
Williams made his first appearance of the season last Friday against Northampton, following Banahan's injury a week earlier, and was pleased with his evening's labours, if not the result.
"I thought I did the basics well – tackling hard, running hard and giving 100 per cent," he said.
"I'd been training well and the opportunity came around and I was confident. I'd gone into games before where I hadn't been feeling too confident but I felt pretty good going into that match.
"I'd been working hard and just hoping that my chance would come. Matt was very good after he picked up his injury, he has always been very supportive of me. We are good mates. He just told me to take my chance."
While he may be lighter, Williams says training sessions have become more intense and more bruising under Gary Gold's leadership.
It's a process, says Williams, of 'hitting your mates'.
"It's something we all agreed at the start of the season – we train as hard as we are going to play at the weekend," he explained.
"We hit our mates out there so that it comes naturally on the Saturday."