Ten months ago Luther Burrell was left “broken” when rugby league convert Sam Burgess kept him out of England’s World Cup squad.
Now Burrell is hoping to cause some damage of his own in Saturday’s first Test against the Wallabies after holding out another code hopper – ex-NRL star Ben Te’o.
Burrell has capped an unlikely international return by nabbing the inside centre role for the three-Test series opener at Suncorp Stadium.
But Burrell will no doubt hope it is just the start of his comeback story under new England coach Eddie Jones.
Burrell wasn’t even in the original England squad to tour Australia – a feeling the Northampton No.12 was unfortunately getting used to.
Burrell needed time away from the game last August to deal with the “sense of betrayal” he felt over then England coach Stuart Lancaster’s decision to opt for convert Burgess over him for the 2015 World Cup.
And Burrell would have been forgiven for feeling a cruel sense of deja vu when he failed to crack the Australian tour squad thanks to another South Sydney premiership winner – Te’o.
Then Burrell’s fortunes finally changed.
Manu Tuilagi injured a hamstring and pulled out of the tour, creating a last gasp berth for Burrell.
And Te’o missed a training session on the Gold Coast on Monday with a suspected hamstring complaint, opening another door for Burrell.
Former England five-eighth Stuart Barnes admitted he was still surprised when Burrell’s name was read out as No.12 for the much hyped first Test in Brisbane.
But Barnes began warming to the idea of strong ball carrier Burrell running off five-eighth Owen Farrell against Australia at a packed Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s an interesting one,” he told Fox Sports TV.
“Burrell hasn’t been in great form this season (for Northampton).
“He’s there not because he is in good form but because he will come off Farrell’s shoulder and try and crash the line.”
Farrell had initially been considered a No.12 candidate with George Ford at No.10 for England.
But Jones opted for Ford on the bench with Farrell at five-eighth to combine in a damaging combination with Burrell that Barnes believed may just work on Saturday.
“Ford and Farrell are a lot of people’s ideal combination but while Farrell has played 12 he isn’t a ball carrier,” Barnes said.
“And they need one (like Burrell) if England are going to get on the front foot, rattle Australia and force their backrow to go backwards into breakdowns.”