Luther Burrell says he is peak condition as he bids to book his place on England’s tour of Australia.
Burrell was not named in the original squad for June’s three-Test series down under, but with Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi ruled out through injury, he has a chance to stake his claim.
That chance comes at Twickenham on Sunday, when Wales will provide the opposition in an Old Mutual Wealth Cup clash.
And Burrell feels he couldn’t be in a better state as he seeks to show England head coach Eddie Jones that he should take the Saints star to Australia.
“I am really excited about being part of this group again,” said the 28-year-old, who has not played for the Red Rose since England’s 25-20 Rugby World Cup warm-up loss to France last August.
“It is a fresh start, a clean slate and if you’re playing well then Eddie Jones is the sort of bloke that is going to pick the best players – all I can do is look after that.
“I have got to really knuckle down, train hard and show Eddie, Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard that I am here, champing at the bit and want my opportunity to get back in the frame.
“Eddie is very good with the players, he is honest and if you’re not pulling your weight he will tell you.
“I am in the best condition I have been in.
“It is an exciting time for England Rugby and an exciting time for me.”
Burrell knows there is plenty of competition in England’s centre department, with Ollie Devoto, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph and Owen Farrell all vying for places.
And there is also a new face in the squad, with Worcester Warriors’ new recruit, Ben Te’o, included in the party that will tour Australia.
“At one point the centre position wasn’t really as strong as it is now,” said Burrell, who has 13 caps to his name.
“Te’o has been playing really well for Leinster outside Johnny Sexton and they have been firing, it is competition and it is a strong position.
“At one point the centre position wasn’t really as strong as it is now, it is an exciting time and keeps everyone on their toes and chomping at the bit to be part of this England squad.”
Burrell could line up against some familiar faces this weekend, including fellow Saints star George North.
And he said: “There’s Jamie Roberts, who is a fantastic player I have played against for England and with Northampton - he is a dangerous threat, and then there’s obviously my club team-mate George North – one hell of an athlete.”