Cory Hill is on course to complete a considerable career leap from World Cup misery to Grand Slam glory.
The Wales lock will make his first Guinness Six Nations start for two years in Saturday’s clash against Italy.
The last time it happened in 2019, he scored a try as Wales beat England to claim a pivotal victory en route to completing a third Six Nations clean sweep under former head coach Warren Gatland.
He was back for more at England’s expense 11 days ago – this time off the bench – as he claimed another touchdown in a Triple Crown-clinching triumph that left Wales requiring victory over Italy and then France next weekend to savour a sixth Six Nations title and fifth Grand Slam.
It would be a first for Gatland’s successor Wayne Pivac, and also give Hill cause to celebrate after bouncing back from serious injury.
The 29-year-old suffered a stress fracture to a bone in his leg as Wales built towards the 2019 World Cup.
Promising progress resulted in Gatland naming him among the Japan-bound World Cup squad, but he returned home after a fortnight at the tournament without playing a game.
We all have injuries, and we all have to bounce back from themWales lock Cory Hill
“Obviously, it was a big setback for me coming back from the World Cup having not played, but it was nice to come home to the family and to watch the boys play well in the World Cup,” Hill said.
“It’s just part and parcel of rugby. We all have injuries, and we all have to bounce back from them.
“I wouldn’t be the first one to come back from a bad one, and I certainly won’t be the last. It’s our job at the end of the day.
“You can always look back at the good days, but it’s about looking forward as well.
“I am still young enough to go to another World Cup, and that was a motivation for me, and to try to get as many caps as possible.”
Hill’s focus is firmly on a final push in this season’s Six Nations, with Wales knowing they can pile pressure on main title rivals France by claiming a bonus-point success against Italy.
And he will renew a second-row partnership with Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, who extends his world Test match appearance record for Wales and the British and Irish Lions this weekend to 156 games.
Hill added: “Ask anyone in world rugby, and they would love to play alongside Alun Wyn.
“He is a rugby great, and we all enjoy playing alongside him because he is a great player and a great leader. Hopefully, I can add my bit as well and go alright myself.
“Alun Wyn is Alun Wyn. He works his socks off day in, day out. He leads from the front, and that is throughout every session, not just match days.
“Look, he is enjoying his rugby at the minute, and he has hit a great bit of form in this campaign.
“Coming back from injury (Jones suffered a knee injury in December) like he did is pretty supreme.
“To jump straight back into Test level and put the performances in like he has, it is a testament to him.”