When Rob Webber was forced to undergo a second shoulder operation last summer and went through "dark days" wondering what the future held, he never envisaged it would be captaining his country.
But that is the honour which awaits the Bath hooker on Sunday, when he leads an exciting young England side into the non-cap international against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Webber was injured in England's RBS 6 Nations victory over France in 2012 after coming on as an emergency flanker and, two operations later, he succeeded in a "rusty" return to action in January.
With Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs on British and Irish Lions duty, Webber is now eyeing England's tour of Argentina as a chance to force his way back into Stuart Lancaster's Rugby World Cup plans.
"At the start of the season I was still struggling with my shoulder injury and my goals were more short term, to get fit and playing for Bath," Webber said.
"I had arrived there injured and it was made worse by having to have the operation done again. One of the anchors they put in to secure the tendon broke so it needed to be done again. Because it was the same injury in the same place, it just made everything longer the second time around.
"It was hugely frustrating and there were a few dark days along the way. With any surgery there are risks. I was reassured that if the operation was successful and the rehab was done correctly it would all be fine. I am hoping that is the case."
In the time Webber was out of the England picture, Youngs leap-frogged all other rivals to become the first-choice hooker and win a spot on the Lions tour. Youngs' rapid rise gives Webber hope that he still has time to force his way into England's World Cup plans. Lancaster is likely to select three hookers for the tournament.
Webber, David Paice and the uncapped Rob Buchanan are competing for the hooker's jersey this summer. England play a South American XV in Montevideo next Sunday and then two Tests against Argentina.
"A huge part of the next four weeks is for everyone involved to stake a claim going into the autumn internationals and then building for the Rugby World Cup in 2015," Webber said. "That is an aim Stuart wants from the tour, to develop as much experience and find out about guys so he has as much experience to call on before the tournament."