Northampton starlet Courtney Lawes admits he suffered the first blip of his burgeoning career in 2010 but is determined to get it back on track in England's tour of Australasia.
Lawes, who is equally comfortable at blindside and second row, enjoyed an outstanding first half of the season at Franklin’s Gardens which included a notable man-of-the-match performance in the Heineken Cup defeat of Munster.
But since the turn of the year, the 21-year-old has found first-team opportunities increasingly hard to come by with Neil Best and Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe occupying the starting berths including the semi-final play-off defeat to Saracens.
Nevertheless England boss Martin Johnson has kept faith with Lawes by selecting him in his 44-man tour group.
And with both Best and Lobbe departing the Saints this summer, Lawes knows he needs to be firing on all cylinders for his club next season ahead of the 2011 World Cup.
He said: “It was frustrating not to start the semi-final but then again both Neil Best and Nacho were playing really well at the time.
“I was playing a lot better at the start of the season. I had a bit of a down spell but I think I am getting back to form and hopefully I will be able to sustain that right through the whole of next season.
“I think you have downswings sometimes. I took a bit of knock not being given a chance with England although I completely understand why.
“I understand also why Neil (Best) and Nacho (Lobbe) were in the team instead of me but when I got on I wanted to play my heart out and I got to put in a couple of hits.
“I know I need to read the game better so I can be more involved. I know the things I do are really good but sometimes in the game I am not involved as much as I should be.
“With Neil and Nacho leaving, the coaches have not said I have a guaranteed starting spot but I am going to make sure I force my way into the team every week no matter what, no matter who they bring in.”
“I want to get on the pitch and play well – that is the only thought I have in my head for a long time.
“It is quite of strange looking back because I remember last year having played the 2008 IRB World Junior Championship with Jordan Turner-Hall in Wales and then seeing him play against the Barbarians.
“I thought Jesus he has come a long way. One minute you are playing Under-20 rugby and the next you are playing full international rugby.
“It is exciting but my goal has always been to be in the England team for the World Cup. I did not think I would be in it this early but I don’t care how I get there.”