Tom Varndell is determined to shed his tag as one of English rugby's great unfulfilled talents after rekindling his love for the sport with a career-saving summer move from Leicester to fierce Guinness Premiership rivals London Wasps.
The path from Welford Road to Adams Park is not well-trodden but Varndell knew by Christmas of last year that drastic measures were necessary if he was to halt a dangerous downward spiral.
Still only 23, Varndell has twice broken into the England team and twice fallen from grace faster than he can run 100metres - which, for the record, is 10.8seconds in his socks.
Disillusioned, distracted and demotivated, the man with the fastest boots in the English game had begun to drag his heels.
“I had to get out of there,” said Varndell, who spoke to Bath and Saracens before Ian McGeechan and Lawrence Dallaglio persuaded him his future was with Wasps.
“I want to be playing at the top of the game and not just floating around being an average player.
“I want to continue where I was 18 months ago when I was on England tours and I want to be back in that environment.”
Varndell was a fresh-faced teenager in 2005-06 when he took the world sevens circuit and the Guinness Prmeiership by storm, only to crash back to earth with a bump.
He was taught a “brutal lesson” by Lote Tuqiri on England’s 2006 tour to Australia and with confidence crushed, he was farmed out on loan to National Division One Bedford.
Varndell would soon recognise the value of the whole experience and he responded positively.
After finishing as the Premiership’s leading try-scorer for two consecutive seasons Varndell earned an England recall in the summer of 2008 and won his fourth cap against New Zealand.
Once again, Varndell returned from England duty and found himself in a funk. But this time it looked terminal.
“Last season I had a stress fracture in my foot, I had knee problems, personal stuff at home was going on and it was almost too much effort,” said Varndell.
“It sounds so bad. Professional rugby is a dream job and to say it was too much effort is so bad, but I got to the point where I wasn’t motivated at all.
“It wasn’t good for me, for the club or for my friends. I became quite a negative person.
“I knew I wasn’t performing well at Leicester, I didn’t warrant a place in the team and I couldn’t blame anyone else.
“I knew I needed to get out, I went to them and said I wanted to leave and it was a good decision.”
Varndell was nervous as he walked through the gates at Wasps’ Twyford Avenue training ground for the first time, feeling almost like a spy in the enemy camp.
But he knew immediately it was the right decision.
“I live a minute round the corner and as I walked into training I was thinking what they were going to be like, because obviously being at Leicester you are brought up to hate Wasps,” he said.
“It has been fantastic. I needed a change of scenery and I wanted to get some individual training from guys like Shaun Edwards.
“You don’t want to leave a club like Leicester and join one that hasn’t got a history and hasn’t won trophies.
“There are a lot of boys here who are young but have played a lot of rugby - Dom Waldouck, Danny Cipriani, Joe Simpson.
“There is a lot of potential and a lot of hunger in the team.”