Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi said he wasn't confident of making a England comeback after his career was hampered by a series of injuries.
The 27-year-old played for the red rose team just once in the last four years that came during the Six Nations clash against Wales at Twickenham in 2016 but since then a combination of knee and hamstring injuries kept him out of the national fold.
Tuilagi was recalled by England boss Eddie Jones in the training camp prior to the autumn internationals in September but was forced to leave early following niggles.
Nevertheless, he made a strong comeback for his club Leicester Tigers and even came up with a man of the match performance against Scarlets in the European Champions Cup clash last month that led to him being named on the bench for the Twickenham clash against Springboks this Saturday.
The 6ft centre admitted that the love for the game kept him going after every setback that he suffered due to injuries.
"We have our feelings and you can be the strongest person, but you always have your doubts," Tuilagi said.
"But if you really love what you’re doing, then that gets you up.
"For me, I’ve got a family now with my little girl, so life is completely different in a very positive way.
"I’m glad I’m here because all of the hard work you do is for this. It’s for achieving the highest achievement in your field and that’s to get picked and come and train with the best players in the country – that’s an honour in itself."
Tuilagi has featured in 27 Tests for England since his debut in 2011 but he recalled the 2012 win over All Blacks where he was among the try-scorer as the most memorable moment.
"To beat the All Blacks and to beat them the way that we did was very pleasing. I remember at that time that everyone wrote us off as we had already lost to South Africa and Australia.
"That will stay with me for the rest of my life."