Gloucester powerhouse Lesley Vainikolo has vowed to "play harder" next season after being overlooked for England's New Zealand tour.
Vainikolo and his club colleague Iain Balshaw were the high-profile selection casualties to miss out on appointments with the All Blacks in Auckland and Christchurch next month when manager Martin Johnson announced his first England squad.
A former Auckland schoolboy who played rugby league for New Zealand, Vainikolo admits it would have been a dream to face the All Blacks on their own turf.
But the 29-year-old, who featured in all of England’s RBS 6 Nations games this season under former red rose boss Brian Ashton, has taken his demotion squarely on the chin.
He said: “I enjoyed myself in the Six Nations, and I wish England luck for the summer tour.
“Sometimes in life, you have disappointments and you have got to deal with it. If you don’t get picked, you don’t get picked.
“That’s the way the game is sometimes, but I just carry on with what I do.
“It would have been nice to go on a tour to New Zealand, but maybe one day.
“The big thing for me now is to try and work through the injuries I’ve had this season and get back to where I was. There has been a lot of stop-start for me this season.
“I also know that I need to work on my fitness in the off-season, and that is what I will be doing.
“There is always another season, it’s not the end. Next season, I will just have to play harder.”
Vainikolo’s debut season in union - one that started with a five-try blitz against Leeds Carnegie - is now hurtling towards a potentially thrilling conclusion.
Two more victories - against play-off opponents Leicester on Sunday and Wasps or Bath in the final at Twickenham later this month - would give Premiership table-toppers Gloucester their first league title.
And Vainikolo will look back on a campaign that saw him gain five England caps, in addition to possible Premiership glory and a Heineken Cup quarter-final, with satisfaction.
The former Bradford Bulls star added: “I am pretty happy with what I’ve done, but it is not just for me, it is for my family and the club.
“I have really enjoyed myself - I’ve got no regrets or anything.
“I made the right move to come down to Gloucester, and it is going well.
“Everyone has made me feel welcome, and I’ve found it really easy fitting in. I feel like I have been here for longer than one season - it’s been awesome.”