Lewsey looks forward to new adventure

Josh Lewsey was rested from England's summer tour of Australia and given the chance to recharge his batteries and enjoy a full pre-season's preparation. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Josh Lewsey was rested from England’s summer tour of Australia and given the chance to recharge his batteries and enjoy a full pre-season’s preparation.

Lewsey had virtually played three years of non-stop rugby and he ended last season out of the England team and some way short of his best form.

It is something of a luxury for an international player to have a summer off these days so Lewsey took full advantage.

And there is, after all, a big year ahead. Wasps want to reclaim the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup titles. England have a reputation to rebuild and then a World Cup to defend.

But Lewsey is just not suited to lazy beach holidays, sun loungers and airport novels.

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The 29-year-old former army officer took himself off for an adventure holiday to northern Pakistan. For three weeks Lewsey and an old buddy from the forces survived on goat soup as they hiked from K2 base camp and tackled the Boltora glacier.

When the avalanche warning became too severe at 5,500 metres they turned back while suffering from altitude sickness and headed towards K2 to get stuck into some ice climbing.

It may not be most people’s idea of a relaxing summer holiday – but Lewsey has returned to Wasps reinvigorated by the experience. And that was the idea.

"It is really good to have a proper pre-season. Pakistan was not that restful, as you can imagine with the terrain, the altitude and goat soup, but it was a mental switch off," Lewsey explained.

"There are not too many people who know anything about rugby in that part of the world!

"We went up to the K2 base camp on the northern frontier of Pakistan. Then we started trekking up the Boltora glacier from one of the most remote villages in the world.

"I wouldn’t say it was fun, it was too hard to be enjoyable, but it was one hell of an experience.

"It gives you a different perspective. You realise how lucky we have got things here. These porters live off a chapati and some sweet tea pretty much every day of their lives and carry an awful lot of weight in their flip-flops.

"They are hard, rugged people. It is a long way from the five-star hotels sometimes we become accustomed to."

Until he was dropped for the Six Nations defeat to Ireland in March, Lewsey was the only England player not to have missed an international since the 2003 World Cup.

He played for a Wasps side that went the distance every season, reaching Premiership finals and Heineken Cup finals, and last summer he toured New Zealand with the Lions.

He was mentally drained and frustrated at constantly being asked to switch between wing, full-back and centre.

England head coach Andy Robinson needs Lewsey in prime shape for the coming season which ends, they all hope, in Paris with a successful World Cup defence next October.

And he agreed with Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan to give him, alongside a number of other key players, the summer off.

"There was an element of negativity after the Lions tour. We had been playing pretty much for three years solidly," said Lewsey.

"But with the senior guys rested in the summer you will see some real hunger to achieve potential and win trophies.

"I have never been lacking in motivation but I don’t think I played more than three games in a row in the same position last season.

"It is quite unsettling because you want to get into a roll, playing in the same position on a weekly basis.

"The one thing I would ask for is some continuity between club and country."

Wasps became masters of the play-off system, winning three Premiership titles in Grand Finals at Twickenham. But they were overtaken last season as Sale snatched the trophy.

"We underperformed last season. Sometimes it needs a disappointing year for changes to be made. At the end of last year, before we went on the end-of-season social, we sat down and had a very honest session and put down on paper what we thought had gone wrong and why we weren’t champions," said Lewsey.

"Our goal is to win trophies and three years ago we set out a blueprint on how to run a domestic team but we have been caught up by other sides.

"We are not talking massive changes, just tinkering small bits and pieces, but that is the difference between coming first and third.

"Generally the standard of rugby that was played last year was disappointing both domestically and internationally.

"But this year, with the World Cup on the horizon, people realise they have to step up and that makes for a very exciting Premiership season, European campaign and what an autumn international series we have ahead of us."

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