Wallabies squad member Quade Cooper admits a string of injury-hampered years have played on his mind in games, as he vies to rediscover his best rugby.
Cooper comes into Wallabies camp in a rare injury-free season after battling serious injuries for the better part of the last five seasons, a run that began with a 2011 ACL injury.
Reflecting back, the enigmatic playmaker can see how he shirked contact and favoured one side of his body after that injury - an ailment followed by a serious shoulder injury, a broken collarbone, a broken scapula and a poorly-timed rolled ankle at the back end of last year.
“In the past few years I got to a place where I was getting a few injuries, I was getting eight weeks of rehab and two weeks of playing and then I was back in the rehab,” he told RUGBY.com.au.
“It dents your confidence because you're out on the field and you're worrying about ways you can avoid injury rather than ways you can compete, ways you can offer up to the team and just do what you love to do.”
“When I was coming back from my knee injury... when I look back on it, at the time I didn't necessarily notice but when I look back at games, I knew I was favouring or trying to avoid being tackled on that side, avoid trying to step off that side.
“It does play on your mind - It'd be silly to say that it doesn't.”
“Being out on the field each week (this year) has been a massive confidence booster for myself (to try and) get back to where I want to be.”
Though he is finally starting to feel like he’s working towards his best rugby, knee and foot problems have still niggled at him this season, and that apprehension hasn’t entirely been assuaged.
“I wouldn't say you get rid of it completely, because we play a contact sport and I think everyone whether you've had injury or not, you know it looms out there,” he said.
“In saying that I know that the more I've been able to spend out on the field, the less you start to think about anything else than just doing your job.”
What exactly that job will be in Wallabies is yet to be confirmed.
Bernard Foley is the clear first-choice when it comes to the Wallabies’ flyhalf spot, but Cooper certainly isn’t writing anything off as a given.
“Every year’s an opportunity to perform for a spot and get some clarity on where you stand and the role that you'll play for this series and then moving forward for the rest of the year,” he said.
If he misses out on the 23 against Fiji, Cooper said he would be looking to learn as much as he can as he strives to improve.
“The guys that come in young, they've got a lot to offer as well, so you learn off them as well being an older guy,” he said.
“For myself I know I've got personal goals to achieve but my biggest goal this whole year is being able to consistently be on the field, enjoy my footy and then get back to playing the football I know I can."
The Wallabies take on Fiji on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS. Buy tickets here.