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Stevens is on the Matt.

Byline: Adam Hathaway

MATT STEVENS aims to be rugby's Big Daddy by wrestling his way into England's World Cup squad - with the help of a martial arts champ.

The Saracens prop, on the comeback trail after a two-year ban for cocaine abuse, has been training in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with renowned expert Roger Gracie - whose clients include Madonna's former hubby Guy Ritchie.

Stevens even won the British title twice as a blue belt while he was banned from rugby, and is hoping he can grapple his way into Martin Johnson's 30-man group for New Zealand this autumn.

Stevens, 28, said: "Jiu-Jitsu is a great conditioning tool, very good anaerobic and aerobic fitness and you learn how to move the human body around.

"It has helped me at the breakdown area - it is about manipulating the angles and saving energy, basically.

Effort "So you don't expend so much effort putting someone on the floor.

"It was invented by Brazilians, predominantly a family called the Gracies.

"The current world champion Roger Gracie, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, has his main gym in Notting Hill.

"So when I left Bath for London, I was able to do a lot of training with him."

Stevens hopes to throw his weight around for England Saxons against Tonga at Gloucester today, claiming he is not the same bloke he was before his drugs shame.

And the 2007 World Cup finalist knows being able to play on both sides of the scrum could be a vital asset in forcing his way back into the limelight.

Stevens added: "I am a different player to two years ago. I don't really make comparisons in my mind but fitness-wise I am there or thereabouts."

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CONDITIONING: Matt Stevens
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 12, 2011
Words:293
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