Ken Owens hopes to turn his recovery from a "freak" neck injury into the start of his long quest for Rugby World Cup 2015 selection.
The Scarlets hooker expects to be sidelined for 12 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a prolapsed disc in his neck.
The 27-year-old will miss Wales' autumn Test schedule, but is steeling himself for a makeshift pre-season as he eyes Six Nations action.
The Carmarthen-born front-rower battled back from a first bout of neck surgery to make Wales' 2011 World Cup squad, and is now aiming to make history repeat itself.
"It was obviously frustrating but injuries are part and parcel of rugby," said Owens.
"It was just a freak injury towards the end of a scrummaging session in training to be honest.
"I've had it now: maybe that's one way to look at it.
"So I can get good rest, good rehab and conditioning, then the boys, some of the players will have a big couple of months of rugby leading into the Six Nations and what have you, while I'll hopefully be fresh.
"But you can never predict these things.
"In the last World Cup year, I had my neck operation in the January and thought I wouldn't be able to get back in contention for the World Cup.
"But then some of the other boys started picking up injuries towards the end of the season and I ended up going to the World Cup.
"Things happen for a reason but you've got to look after your own health and wellbeing as well.
"Thankfully it is only just a 12-week injury, so hopefully I'll have chance to get back and try to get a bit of form to prove to the international selectors I deserve a spot.
"It's just part and parcel of rugby, you've just got to make sure your body's right and healthy, then look at the rest of it after that."
Owens described neck and back problems as par for rugby's front-row course, playing down the "light shave" surgeons performed on his problem disc.
The 26-cap hooker believes the increasing media spotlight in rugby's professional era accounts for a perceived rise in injury rates.
"I don't think there are more injuries," he said.
"Rugby's more scrutinised now, there's more media interest, right across the board it's highlighted more.
"I wouldn't say there are any more injuries now than when I first started: you just hear about them.
"When one or two players pick up several injuries on the bounce I think it makes things generally sound worse than they really are.
"But we play a contact sport with big athletes playing it, and inevitably there are going to be some injuries.
"Something's got to give at the end of the day - and it tends to be necks and shoulders!"