Will Hurrell is braced for the biggest season of his career after securing a move to Premiership new boys Bristol RFC.
The 26-year-old, from Melton, went straight into training last week following his move from Doncaster Knights.
Ironically it was impressive try-scoring performances against Bristol in the two-legged Championship play-off final which helped secure a two-year deal with the ambitious West Country club.
The chance to play Premiership rugby marks a dream return to a sport Hurrell left four years ago to pursue a university degree.
“It’s huge for me,” he said. It’s all I’ve wanted.
“I had a couple of good games in the final and a few offers came in after that, but Bristol was the right fit for me.
“They have seen what I can do first-hand so they have already got an idea of what I can do, where I play and where I fit in.
“It was a difficult decision to leave Doncaster, and they were very supportive, but I had to give it a shot.
“Playing in the Premier is what we work for.”
After completing his studies, Hurrell was picked up by the Knights 12 months ago and starred in a sensational campaign which took them to the brink of an unexpected promotion.
As well as landing two top club awards with Doncaster, Hurrell was also named in the Rugby Paper’s Championship XV of the year.
But even he was surprised at how swiftly his chance came to play at England’s top table.
“In my head I thought I would give it a shot, I’ll give it everything and see what happens,” he added.
“I tried not to get my hopes up too much, but things have gone right for me.
“Physically, mentally and emotionally I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been, so the time is right.”
Hurrell came through the age group sides at Melton RFC before earning a coveted place within Leicester Tigers’ vaunted academy.
Regular international honours culminated in two world cups with the England under 20s side.
But failure to break into a star-studded Tigers XV, followed by an unhappy exit from London Welsh, persuaded Hurrell to take a sabbatical from the game.
His decision to return now looks fully justified with a chance to make his debut in one of the world’s most prestigious leagues - and a possible reunion with his former employers.
He said: “Of course playing Leicester will be interesting and exciting, and hopefully I will be in the squad.
“But it will all be in good spirits; there’s no bitterness there. But the chance to show them how far I’ve come would be nice.”
The hard-tackling winger-come-centre is under no illusions at the task he faces to persuade former England head coach Andy Robinson to hand over a starting spot.
Despite a few years in the doldrums, Bristol are a traditional giant of the game and hail from a fierce rugby heartland.
They have employed a good young squad mixed with experienced old hands to revive their fortunes, including ex-Wales star Gavin Henson and Tongan international Soane Tonga’uiha, not to mention former Tigers clubmates Tom Varndell and Jordan Crane.
“No-one is guaranteed a starting place – it’s a big squad with so much talent,” Hurrell added.
“Everyone wants to test themselves against the best players in the country. I feel I can get there and make a difference.”
The news has delighted his old hometown club, but there will be no prouder spectators if and when the debut comes than parents Bill, a former professional footballer with Grimsby Town, and Julia.
“Mum and dad are chuffed and it’s lovely for them,” he said.
“I keep saying to them ‘I have a long way to go so just keep your hair on’, but they have supported me through all this so it’s nice to make them happy.”