Danny Care’s self-inflicted international exile has made him more determined than ever to lay claim to England’s No 9 shirt.
Leeds-born scrum-half Care was axed from England’s RBS Six Nations squad after he was arrested – and subsequently convicted – for drink driving in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
The shock of losing his England place forced Care to get his priorities straight and his late-season form was integral to Harlequins’ Premiership title triumph.
Care produced a man-of-the-match performance in a 14-14 draw with South Africa on his comeback in June.
The 25-year-old is expected to keep his place ahead of Ben Youngs when England launch their autumn campaign against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.
Care believes the whole episode has made him a better person and a better player.
“It’s all about rugby for me now. That’s what I lost sight of a bit last year. I let my standards slip,” he said. “I’ve learned an awful lot in a short space of time. I had to grow up pretty quickly and I think I’ve done that.
“Playing for England is the biggest honour you can ever have. To have that taken away hurt me a lot.
“I’ll never do anything to put myself in that situation again.
“It was my fault. I put Stuart Lancaster in a position where he had to do something and he did. I understood his decision.
“Stuart said to me that day ‘by no means is your England career over, you’ve just got to get yourself back on track, get playing well and you’ll be back in my thoughts’.
“That’s what I’ve done. I’m just delighted to get another chance with Stuart. I’ve worked with him since I was 14. He told me off back then, he still tells me off now.”
Rotherham Titans do not expect to have a new head coach in place in time for Sunday’s trip to Cornish Pirates.
Club officials have whittled down their shortlist of six to what is believed to be a select group that includes Alex Codling, Clive Griffiths and Pete Drewett.
Senior players Lee Blackett and Mike Whitehead are again expected to take charge of team affairs at the weekend.