Comeback kid Alex Corbisiero readily admits that he has never doubted his ability to perform at the highest level.
But the Northampton-bound England prop’s career has now moved into new territory following his pivotal role in destroying Australia’s scrum during a third Test performance of brutal brilliance.
Corbisiero thought his British and Irish Lions chance might have gone after he missed much of last season due to injury.
After being selected for England’s Argentina tour, though, he was summoned to Australia as Lions front-row injury cover. The 24-year-old ended up starting two Tests and starring in both.
“At the moment, I am just taking it all in. I am absolutely loving it,” he said.
“It has been a tough year, and this is the perfect way to end it. I am really happy. I’ve always known when I get it right and I am fit and healthy and have a chance to play, then I know what I am capable of.
“I am really looking forward to pushing on with Saints now and putting a marker down there and carrying on from where I have just left off.
“It (fitness fight) definitely wasn’t easy at times, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. Anyone who wants to doubt me, have a look now and see where am I at. I am going to kick on from here.
“In the back of your mind, you always hope that you would make it to here (Lions). My goal from the start of the season was to be involved in a Lions tour, and it felt like I had it taken away from me - the opportunity to put a marker down in the Six Nations - with me being out injured.
“But I got my opportunity, and I was going to try to make the most it and take it. If a door opens, just try to walk through it. I am just really over the moon about what has happened.”
Corbisiero scored a try inside two minutes, and he then proceeded to wreck Australia’s front-row alongside his Lions scrummaging partners Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones.
They dominated to such an extent that Wallabies tighthead Ben Alexander was sin-binned and Australia could find no way back into a contest that saw them horribly outmuscled.
“I am a bit lost for words. It was the best day of my life, and I am just grateful to be able to achieve something like that,” he added.
“I think we wanted to make sure we put a marker down at set-piece and try to set some dominance there. I think we were able to do that.
“We worked on our drills, we tweaked a few things and the referee perceived our dominance as well, which made it a lot clearer in terms of getting those penalties. The set-piece was a real strength.
“At Test level, there is no substitute for set-piece, and if you can get those key penalties, keep putting pressure on and taking points when they are on offer it puts you in good stead and means the other team is chasing the scoreboard.
“All the front-row players here have been quality. They are all absolute quality front-row specialists, and when we’ve got (coach) Graham Rowntree drilling us and everything, the attention to detail is awesome.
“There is no tomorrow as a Lion, there is no next year, it may never happen again for you, and that was the mentality we had. A lot of us might not be here in four years’ time. Who knows what is going to happen?
“It has only just started to sink in what we have actually achieved. At the time you are just focussing on it being another game and seeing it through, but once that final whistle went you think ‘wow, we’ve done this’.
“It’s been a crazy month or so for me - it’s a bit surreal - but you take the opportunities you get in life and try to make the most of them. That is what I’ve tried to to.”