Nizaam Carr will be fighting for his Springbok future when he leads South Africa's charge at the breakdown against Italy on Saturday.
The Stormers loose forward made his Bok debut against Italy in 2014, but his form dipped badly in 2015 and the only reason he finds himself back in the Springbok fold is because of injuries to others.
Carr admitted his form last year was poor, something which meant he wasn't in the reckoning when it came to Heyneke Meyer's World Cup selections.
"I’ve stepped up mentally and I’m the in-form Nizaam Carr that people know. I want to be a special player again and not just a number in the team‚" the 25-year-old told Times Live.
"I went through a slump‚ especially in 2015. But I don’t want to dwell in the past even though 2015 was not a year to be proud of. I have slowly picked my game up and there are thousands of kids who want to play for the Boks. I have a responsibility to not only play for my community‚ myself and my family‚ but also for all South Africans to make them proud."
A mysterious virus which Carr contracted early in 2015 derailed his season and caused him to drop out of the Bok setup as he struggled to be a first-choice at the Stormers.
"When I fell out of the Bok squad the hunger and desire was always there‚ but there were things that I needed to look at in my life and career‚" Carr said.
"I’m a big believer that if I work extremely hard in the week will be rewarded at the weekend. I was very emotional about falling out of the Bok squad in 2015. It was a big year because it was a World Cup year and as a result I really struggled mentally.
"I took it out on my family and they could see how much it was affecting me. I’m grateful and blessed to be here again and I’m hoping to make a difference. The illness set me back but I made a full recovery‚ so I can’t stand here and blame the virus for losing my place last year. It happened‚ it’s in the past and I’m here now‚ starting against Italy," he said.
"I had about seven to nine doctors trying to pinpoint what the illness was but they couldn’t. I had a mixture of flu and high fevers. I was on drips and all sorts of medications and I made a full recovery from that‚ but the 2015 season didn't make full recovery."