Charlie Hodgson arrived in New Zealand refocused and ready for the All Blacks after suffering a nasty gash to the cheek during England's laboured win over the Barbarians at the weekend.
Hodgson had a taste of things to come at Twickenham on Saturday when an accidental clash of heads in a typically fierce challenge from former All Black number eight Jerry Collins left him requiring 13 stitches.
“I picked the wrong man to clash heads with Jerry Collins has a pretty solid head,” said Hodgson with a wry grin.
“I saw the blood come out of my face but I wasn’t concerned about any broken bones or anything like that.
“It was just a question of sorting my head out and sorting the cut out.
“You have to grin and bear it. I’m not going to get worried or concerned about it. I just need to refocus and go forward to New Zealand.”
The Sale fly-half, who was making his first start in the red rose jersey since November 2006, impressed in an otherwise dour England performance before being forced off just before half-time.
“He was playing very well. Defensively he made a couple of good tackles and injury came from him going to the line, which we have been encouraging him to do. He kicked well, too,” said assistant coach Mike Ford.
But on arrival in New Zealand, Hodgson finds himself in familiar territory.
In 2004, with Jonny Wilkinson out injured, he had the chance to nail down England’s fly-half position.
Four years later, Hodgson is still in the same boat after serious knee injuries ruled him out of both the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.
Of the 79 Tests England have played since his debut against Romania in 2001, when he scored a national record 44 points five days after his 21st birthday, Hodgson has missed 50.
But with Danny Cipriani and Wilkinson both out of action, Hodgson is now back in the frame and competing with Olly Barkley to start at fly-half in the first Test against the All Blacks in Auckland on July 14.
“I see the tour as a massive opportunity for me,” said Hodgson, who has not started a Test for England since rupturing his knee ligaments against South Africa in November 2006. “It is a big responsibility. This is the first opportunity I’ve had in a long time in an England shirt.
“You never give up hope. I’ve always maintained good belief in my ability to play and perform at this level, and I have been given another opportunity to do it.
“I’ve just kind of accepted what happened, and you crack on with it. I am hoping that is the end of my bad luck with injuries, and hopefully, I will have a good few years ahead of me now.”