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New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year when most of the population are pledging to shelve alcohol, chocolate and all manner of vices for the greater good.

And while winning in Aviva Premiership Rugby is a career-long commitment, plenty of players have pledged fresh New Year’s Resolutions to make sure 2016 is a success on and off the pitch.

Centre Matt Smith looks a renewed man at Leicester Tigers under new head coach Aaron Mauger this season – and it’s all the more impressive given the sleepless nights he’s contending with at the moment.

"We’ve just had a little baby boy who is 10 weeks old so he’s keeping me pretty busy at the moment," said Smith.

"As a result my New Year’s resolution isn’t a very complicated one, it’s just to get a few whole nights’ sleep without being woken up! We’ll see how long it takes.

Meanwhile, Worcester Warrior Marco Mama is already looking beyond 2016 as the flanker – still only 24 – has set his sights on preparing for life after rugby.

Indeed, this could be a start of a long career for Mama in Aviva Premiership Rugby should Warriors build on their solid start back in the top flight, but he wants to make sure he’s a success as soon as he hangs up his boots.

"My main focus this year in terms of a New Year’s resolution is off the pitch," he admitted. "I’m looking at upskilling so that I can be ready for my career after rugby.

"It might seem a little odd but I have a few ideas about what I might want to go into when I stop playing and it’s important to be ready and make sure you have the necessary qualifications and contacts.
 
"There are some good people around the club who can help with that so I’ve started getting in touch with them to see what I need to do next.

"I want to make sure I’m ready when I do finish so that I can get a good job after rugby."

The same thoughts occupy London Irish fly-half Chris Noakes, who at 30 is a little bit closer to the tail end of his career.

His first port of call will be helping the Exiles return to prominence – and that could be sooner rather than later after last week’s impressive win over Northampton Saints – but Noakes is already an extremely educated man.

"I am over 30 now so my resolutions are all about making sure I’m thinking about what I am going to be doing after rugby," said Noakes.

"Planning for life after rugby is important, I’ve got a couple of degrees and am doing a post graduate degree in sports law so I have got the ball rolling.

"The thing for me this year is to make sure I am talking with good people about what I could do next and making sure I am proactive with it."

As for evergreen Wasps centre Ben Jacobs, his immediate priority is to help his side make good on a start to the season that has seen them beat some of the best Europe have to offer.
 
With crushing wins over Toulon and Leinster in the bag, 33-year-old Jacobs admits Wasps must bring that consistency into Aviva Premiership Rugby.

"The next few months are about keeping fit, keeping focused and being the best team player I can be, whether that is on or off of the field," he said. "We all need to contribute to push us towards the top six.
 
"I’m happy with how I have been going. My form is good and my body is holding up nicely. Hopefully I can get good game time over the next four months."

Elsewhere, Alex Waller was the try-scoring hero for Saints as they won a nerve-jangling Aviva Premiership Rugby Final in 2014 – and he’s resolved to return to Twickenham again.

It has been an up and down start for Northampton, with four wins in their first eight games, though according to prop Waller no one is worried at Franklin’s Gardens.

"I’ve always said that if you set yourself a New Year’s resolution, it clearly wasn’t important enough to do it the rest of the year!" joked Waller.

"I just keep on doing what I’m doing, keep playing well and hopefully the squad keeps playing well. You don’t play this game to not win silverware. It’s definitely on the agenda and it’s something we are really eager to achieve, like two years ago.

"Everyone’s ambition is to catch the eye and play for your country but there is only one way to do that – to keep doing what you are doing and hope they see it.

"I’m not counting my chickens but it’s an ambition of mine and it would be a great honour to achieve it."

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