A NECK injury that ruled him out for club and country meant Sale Sharks back rower Alex Sanderson needed to put some distance between himself and his rugby.
And the 23-year-old from Chester did that mentally and physically by heading to Australia and the Cayman Islands during the summer.
While the national team were tackling New Zealand and Australia, Alex was enjoying his time around Sydney.
His break from the sport has paid off as within a week of returning to pre-season training, he was named in the preliminary World Cup squad.
Alex said: "Basically they took a disc out of my neck and inserted a piece of bone to fuse the vertebrae together.
"That meant I missed the last five games of the season and the summer tours, which was obviously frustrating.
"You work just as hard as everyone else, but your body lets you down sometimes, so I decided to get away and not think about rugby for a while - just take a step back and chill out."
Now he is back, Alex admits he is recharged with enthusiasm for the new season and is putting everything into getting fit again.
"I am able to train with the other guys as long as I lay off contact," he said. "It will be a few weeks before I can do that, but it is going well otherwise.
"Our fitness coach is Apollo Perelini who played in a similar position to me. I get on well with him and I'm having a good time already to be honest.
"I think it is going to be a good year for me."
Alex, who signed for Sale in 1997 and made his first team debut against Bedford a year later, particularly looks forward to the competition for places among the squad.
"I always want to make the back row spot my own and set the standards, because I don't like sitting on the bench if I can help it," he explained.
"We have a good young squad here that has done well in recent seasons with winning the Parker Pen Shield for instance, so you can never just sit back."
If anything that goes double for England, where Alex will be competing against the incumbent trio of Neil Back, Richard Hill and Lawrence Dallaglio - as well as the likes of Wasps young tyro Joe Worsley - for a place in the squad, let alone the team.
"They are playing some of the best rugby of their careers at the moment so to oust one of them will be difficult," he assessed.
"I will be fit and strong by the time the World Cup comes along, so there is a chance I will make it and I am keeping hope alive.
"Missing out on the tours was a blow though because Clive Woodward hasn't had a chance to look at me and he won't now unless it is in training camp, so I have to be realistic as well.
"Still it is up to me to perform well enough to get in and the World Cup is definitely extra motivation."
Away from the pressures of professional sport, Alex enjoys another side of his work with Sale - coaching sessions with junior rugby clubs.
He has helped at several such sessions around the region, including more than one at Caldy rugby club who have a close relationship with the Premiership giants, and says he learns as much as the club players do.
"You don't realise how enjoyable it is until you actually do a session, but I love doing it," Alex mused.
"It means I can give something back to a game that has been good for me, and also understand rugby a bit more.
"By helping the players, you are reinforcing your own skills and knowledge so it is all good really."