Mike Brown will never give up on his England dream – and thinks he is playing the best rugby of his life at Harlequins.
The 33-year-old full-back was dropped for the first time under Eddie Jones
in November and missed all four of England's autumn Tests.
But speaking for the first time since his international axing, Brown said he is by no means drawing a curtain on his career, and remains desperate to win for club and country.
'I'm not running around in the freezing cold to have a laugh,' he said.
'I'm here to win things. I'm desperate to achieve. England is in the back of my mind as always.
'I'm still at the top of my game. I know the sort of player I am and the level I am at so have no doubt I can get back there if I keep working as I do.
'I was nominated for Premiership player of the month so I must be doing something right.
'The day I lose that competitiveness will be the day I stop.' And Brown noted how former England defence coach Paul Gustard has inspired him to improve.
'The last two years have been awful - I wasn't enjoying it at all,' he added.
'My missus will tell you I moaned about it.
'I don't want to rely on going away with England to enjoy my rugby.
'Now I feel like I'm genuinely getting better as a player, genuinely able to express myself in games, in training.
'Training is so much better in terms of trying stuff, learning and then being able to transfer that on to the field.
'If you see me in training I'm a different person, so enthusiastic. The training that allows me to practise stuff that enables me to be the player I want to be.
'In the last couple of years maybe I was trying to do too much.' And Gustard maintains Brown should still be in England contention.
'Eddie has a lot of options but I am always surprised when Mike Brown is not involved,' said the Quins head of rugby.
'When I was there he was the mainstay of the team.
'He is the most capped full-back England have ever had, he will go down as one of the greats, will be the most capped Harlequin of all time so to not have that guy in the England team is surprising.
'He is the most competitive person I have seen on a rugby field up with Owen Farrell, Martin Johnson, Brad Barritt and Jacques Burger. That can be misconstrued in terms of anger management, but it is his will to win.
'Mike is a real driver for this team. The one thing this club didn't have last year was tenacity, but Mike Brown is Tenacity with a capital T.'