Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson says his injury nightmare is now behind him as he bids to regain the form that made him an England scrum-half contender.
While family friend Ben Youngs was able to make his debut against Scotland, Simpson was left frustrated as a shoulder injury ruled him out of the RBS 6 Nations.
The 21-year-old says he was playing the best rugby of his nascent career when the injury intervened but he is now set on recapturing that scintillating form ahead of England’s summer tour Down Under.
He said: “When I got injured I was playing the best rugby of my life and I felt I was in contention for England.
“I was playing week in, week out and learning things all the time in my first season of Premiership rugby.
“The injury happened at the wrong time but you don’t often get to choose when you get injured.
“I was pleased for Ben because our families know each other quite well from the time we have played age-grade rugby together. But there was part of me that I was thinking that could have been me.
“While I have been out the coaches have tried to iron out some of the creases in my game.
“I have come back rejuvenated and it makes you enjoy rugby that bit more when you have had time out.
“The grounds are starting to get harder now as well which suits my game perfectly. I need to get my consistency back but the summer tour is at the back of my mind.”
Simpson made his first start since the injury in the 14-9 defeat to Northampton but his comeback was overshadowed by the return of fellow injury victim Tom Rees who had to spend 11 agonising months on the sidelines.
And he admitted the example of the England flanker, who had also been out with a shoulder injury, has stopped him feeling too sorry for himself while he has been out of action.
He added: “This is the first significant part of a season I have had to miss through injury – it was especially annoying because Wasps had some big games and I was playing well at the time.
“But I don’t have a right to complain when I have seen what Tom has been through.
“He has been through hell and back but has never moaned about his fate although both of us were pretty shattered against Northampton.
“When I found Tim Payne beating me to the breakdown I knew my fitness was not what it should be!”