Dave Attwood tells skysports.com why Sunday's clash with the Barbarians is so important.
By Tony Curtis - Twitter: @SkySportsTC
Last Updated: 26/05/11 11:49am
It has been an action-packed 12 months for lock Dave Attwood - and things are unlikely to settle down for the 24-year-old in the immediate future.
Having burst on to the international scene this time last year, Attwood has been through a rollercoaster of emotions.
From the highs of touring Down Under and then winning his first cap in the autumn to the desperate lows of his nine-week ban for stamping.
However with the World Cup rapidly approaching, Attwood is hoping that he can propel himself back into the limelight over the coming weeks.
His first chance will come against the Barbarians on Sunday at Twickenham - the same fixture that saw Attwood establish his international credentials a year ago.
Attwood, who has now completed his move to Bath after helping Gloucester reach the Aviva Premiership semi-finals, could well have gone on to become a regular in England's engine room.
He was part of the "dirt-trackers" on the tour to Australia and New Zealand, while he won his first Test cap against the All Blacks - coming off the bench - in November.
However a moment of madness the following month saw him handed a lengthy stint on the sidelines, with Attwood suspended after he stamped on La Rochelle's Petrisor Toderasc during an Amlin Challenge Cup clash.
That saw Attwood ruled out of the RBS Six Nations, opening the door for others to jump ahead of him in the pecking order.
And now with so much competition for places in the second row, Attwood knows he might need a slice of luck to get back in - although he is hoping the clash with the BaaBaas will once again act as a springboard for him.
"I am really looking forward to Sunday," he told skysports.com.
"It's a great experience to play in this game.
"It was the start of things for me last year as from this game we then had the summer and autumn internationals, before I fell out the picture.
"I wasn't on the radar and then I was on the radar, so it is a similar situation now. I will be doing my best to sneak into the senior squad again.
"It is massively important to do well. You do what you can for your club during the season but when it gets down to internationals, it is a real chance to showcase what you can do. You want to go out and give the best performance that you can to put yourself into the spotlight.
"World Cup places are at a premium so you have to take these chances when they come along.
"There is tremendous competition at the moment for places. Shawsy (Simon Shaw) is about as experienced internationally as you can get; Courtney Lawes had a bang back in January and February but he came back into it and had a good showing in the Six Nations, while he has done well for Northampton; Louis Deacon has been there and done superbly then there is Tom Palmer, who was for me one of the outstanding players in the Six Nations.
"It is really tough as then you have someone like Mouritz Botha who is going to be eligible and with Saracens playing Leicester in the Premiership final he will have the chance to showcase his talents.
"But a lot of this game is about luck and chance. Sometimes it can be an injury to someone and you can come in, or you get recognition for a performance that you perhaps don't deserve and it spirals from there.
"Unfortunately it can go as quickly as it can come, though, and I am testament to that. The ban in January and February cost me a chance in the Six Nations with the competition being so strong Louis Deacon came in and put in some great displays while Tom Palmer, as I have said, was outstanding."
Despite the suspension having seen Attwood miss out, England manager Martin Johnson and his team have remained in contact with him.
"I had some brief conversations with the England management and they had said to me to get some game time, play well and then I will be on contention," he added.
"From what they've told me I will get a chance, so that starts now and then hopefully in the Churchill Cup."
Two-for-one tickets for England v Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium are available for £25, with under-16s tickets only £10. Get yours from rfu.com/tickets or by calling 0844 8472492