Jack Nowell whittled away the time during five months spent rehabilitating thumb and thigh injuries by assembling Lego kits.
Nowell is set to be restored to the wing when England host France in the opening match of their RBS 6 Nations title defence next weekend after missing the entire autumn due to the quad tear sustained during Eddie Jones’s controversial Brighton training camp in October.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Red Rose colleague Jonny May, who coloured in Harry Potter books during his long-term absence with a knee problem, Nowell retreated to childhood to occupy his mind.
“Jonny colours all day, I had Lego. It’s not just because I am injured, I actually do a bit of Lego all the time,” said the Exeter wing, who also underwent thumb surgery in pre-season.
“I had a lot more sculptures that I built over the five months I was out - a VW camper van, a chopper, a plane, a fishing boat. They are all in my room and my girlfriend doesn’t like it because I am cluttering up the house, but I am a big fan of Lego.
“I go and buy the boxes from Toys R Us, they are getting quite pricey. I should get a loyalty card.
“Sometimes you lose about five hours of the day. You start making it at about 2pm and suddenly it’s 7pm and dinner time.
“The boat was a difficult one. I like the VW camper van, just because of the doors and the lights.
“The lights turn on, you lift the roof off and you have the steering wheel, the seats, the pull-out bed, it’s pretty special.
“I really enjoyed lego as a kid. It’s something that really does completely switch you off. Simple things make me happy.
“My team-mates find it amusing, they like to take the mick out of me, but I think I saw a Lego sculpture that Henry Slade made for Christmas. I think his mum bought it for him, I might have started something.”
Nowell is competing with Marland Yarde for one of the wing spots, with Jones viewing the pair as work-rate players, but the strong recent form of the Chiefs three-quarter is expected to see him chosen for the visit of France to Twickenham.
Although not the fastest wing in the Aviva Premiership, Nowell believes his game awareness ensures he is not vulnerable.
“I try to get into positions that enable me to cancel speed out,” he said.