Jack Nowell spoke of his delight after he was named in England’s 34-man training squad ahead of the opening Six Nations meeting with Wales.
Having missed last June’s tour to New Zealand due to knee surgery, Lancaster brought the talented Cornishman back into his training squad for the November internationals against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia.
And although the 21-year-old trained for all four weeks at their Pennyhill Park base, he was unable to add to his tally of five international caps.
Now fully firing following some detailed surgery on his troublesome knee, Nowell says he is focused on getting back amongst Lancaster’s grand plans, particularly with the Rugby World Cup looming large on the horizon as well.
“I’m very pleased to be back in the squad,” said Nowell. “But the thing I’m most pleased about is getting back from injury and the trust Stuart has put in me. As he said previously, we would all have to fight for our positions again and I’m ready for that.”
Frustrated at times by his eagerness to get back to Chiefs action, Nowell knows the cautious approach from the Exeter medical staff has in fact helped him rediscover his form, which has included a number of tries already this season.
“It’s been a long 12 months and I was itching to get back every day,” he explained. “At the same time, I’m thankful for the time and effort everybody had put into me in terms of my rehab. I’ve come back strong, I’m playing well and it’s nice to have two legs again on the field.
“Looking back I needed that time to rest, but the operation was a huge success and I’ve come back more confident and knowing that my knee is not sore anymore.”
Getting back into the England starting XV, though, will be no formality for Nowell. The form of Jonny May and Anthony Watson has been impressive both for club and country, but the Exeter man says he is determined to attack the cause with everything he has got.
“It’s a big step up for sure,” said Nowell. “Anthony Watson played very well in the Autumn, as did a few others, but I know Stuart will give us all a fair chance, so I just have to attack it as best I can.”