An over the moon Josh Turnbull says his recent call-up to the Wales squad ahead of the summer Tests against Canada and Argentina feels like his first all over again.
The talismanic Turnbull has been in remarkable form for Cardiff Blues this season, winning multiple Player of the Match awards and being named in the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team.
The former Scarlets star was an unused squad member of Wales 2019 Grand Slam, and won the last of his 10 caps in Argentina in 2018.
Speaking on the latest episode of the Scrum V Podcast, the utility forward admits the call-up has been the icing on top of a memorable personal campaign and representing his country is the ultimate honour.
“The last time I played was in 2018 against Argentina, but I genuinely feel like I’ve had my first call-up again,” explains the 33 year old.
“I’ve had that feeling a couple of times before, having been involved in a number of campaigns.
“But people have been telling me that I’ve made more comebacks than Lazarus!
“It’s that never give up attitude and trying to keep chipping away at it, and eventually that reward will come.
“I’m chuffed to bits and this is the icing on top of the cake for the season if I’m honest.
“I probably didn’t expect it to be honest. I’d had a conversation with Dai Young, and asked him to find out if that ship had sailed.
“They said it hadn’t but they’d use this tour to look at developing players, and I took that as them picking a load of youngsters.
“I didn’t really put myself in the frame and I hadn’t thought much about it.
“On Monday, I was on a Level Four coaching course and the e-mail came through. All of a sudden my phone started going berserk, and I had to chuck my phone and watch in the bag because I needed to concentrate on this course I was on.
“It was a whirlwind couple of hours. It’s massive when you get that opportunity to come into an international environment. You’re representing your family, your friends and your country.
“There’s three and a half million people in Wales, and you’re representing all of them. That’s a massive honour.
“I remember when I came through and when I won my first cap, my P.E teacher Wyn Thomas wrote me a letter saying that and it’s stuck with me ever since.
“Anyone who gets the opportunity to wear the Welsh jersey will say the same.”
Turnbull has been a stand-out star in club colours this season, and is displaying no signs of slowing down.
However, the Wales international has credited the next generation of Cardiff stars for his form, as they keep him very much on his toes.
"I got into a routine since my back operation in 2017. I started taking more pride in the way I look after myself, especially on the day after a game. That’s generally when you feel at your worst from all the contact," explains the utility forward.
"It’s just about spending 10 to 15 minutes on a bike in the garage, turning the legs over, and then sit in the hot tub for an hour.
"It’s genuinely made me feel a lot better.
"But also, in terms of not taking things too seriously, it’s also been about having a really good, young bunch of boys at Cardiff Blues. During the season, results didn’t go our way but there’s a group of boys there who want to get better.
"If they want to get better then you want to get better, because you don’t want them to over-take you.
"So that’s been about consistency in performances and showing durability. If you get those two together then you’ll be onto a winner."