Jonny Wilkinson has admitted that there was a time in his comeback from a serious neck injury when he entertained the prospect of never playing again.
Wilkinson, who is on his way back from a knee injury sustained whilst playing for Newcastle in the Cup in January, admits that the extended periods of absence following England's World Cup triumph have been among the toughest times of his life.
But despite being unable to take part in this year's RBS 6 Nations on the field, Wilkinson has remained very much part of coach Andy Robinson's plans off it.
And he feels that positives can be taken from England's three successive losses, which added to their reverse against France in the final game of last year's RBS 6 Nations, makes it their worst run in the competition since 1987.
"I spent time with the team prior to each game. The way they performed especially in the Ireland game was fantastic.
"Their enthusiasm and the level of professionalism they've maintained makes me eager to get back into this squad again.
"I have been frustrated a lot but there is nothing you can do. I wanted to be out there, I wanted to be on the field and try out things."
Wilkinson admits the last 17 months have been frustrating - with dismay turning to absolute dejection when doctors told him his career was hanging in the balance as a result of his neck problem.
"It was particularly tough following my neck injury," he added.
"When the doctors said I might not be able to play again, it was very worrying - I understood it was no joke.
"Last year was a very difficult time of my career.
"But I moved forward and got better. What helped me a lot before my knee injury is that I felt I was playing better.
"I knew that even though I could not play I would still be able to re-find my top form."
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.