Wasps flanker James Haskell was happy to put six months of injury problems behind him when he returned to action against Zebre on Sunday.
The 31-year-old played for close to an hour in the Champions Cup fixture, which will stand him in good stead ahead of the Six Nations.
After the win that sealed top spot in their pool, Haskell admitted it had been a difficult period for him being away from the rugby pitch.
“It’s been the hardest six months I’ve ever had as a professional rugby player,” the England international back-row revealed to Sportsmail.
“It was great to get out there because I wasn’t sure if I would ever play again. It was a very tricky operation and a very tricky area to repair. When you’re turning up to training and your foot’s sore every day, you start having doubts.
“I’m not here to battle through, I’m here to play well and if you can’t do that, you’ve got to find something else to do. It was a lot of three steps forward, two steps back.”
Haskell, along with the rest of the England squad, will fly to Portugal on Monday for a training camp ahead of the defence of their title.