Stevens flourishing at Saracens
Resurgent England prop Matt Stevens insists he is flourishing amid the stable environment offered by Saracens.
Stevens continued his rehabilitation since completing a two-year ban issued for testing positive for cocaine with a man of the match display in Sunday's 20-9 Aviva Premiership victory over Bath. It was the 28-year-old's eighth appearance since his suspension ended in January and first against the club he left in the wake of the scandal.
"My decision to come to Saracens was because as an individual I needed to make a change," said Stevens, who heads to Miami on Monday for a team training camp organised by the club.
"I chose Saracens because of the culture of the club and I knew a lot of the players here. It was a logical decision for me and they've been really supportive of my situation coming back into the game.
"I'm more nervous before playing now than before because I've always got something to prove now. I came into Saracens with everything sorted out. Week on week it's something I keep an eye on and I'm in a very stable environment.
"The focus at Saracens is on the individuals and their families. It's not just about what happens on the park and that has made it easy to stay focused and be healthy. I feel like a 20 year-old who's just started the game."
Saracens tightened their grip on second place with a seventh successive league victory that keeps them on course for home advantage in the play-offs. Stevens' ambition is to win back his England place in time for the World Cup and he knows playing in a Premiership final can only improve his chances of figuring in Martin Johnson's plans.
"There's still quite a way for me to go to break into what is quite a good, developing England team," he said. "But helping Saracens into the Premiership final would be a great platform for me to do that. Johnno's said he's watching me and my progress and that's all I can ask for."
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is convinced Stevens will be included in England's squad for New Zealand this autumn.
"To have been out for that length of time and reach the level he has so soon is a big achievement," said McCall. "He's still not quite there, Matt knows that, but the more he plays the better he'll get and he's had a couple of starts in a row now. I think the World Cup is a realistic ambition for him. His adaptability and flexibility to play both sides is a big feather in his cap."