James Rodwell can be forgiven if he feels a little disorientated at Billesley Common tomorrow in what will be his first Moseley match for more than a month.
The last time the dynamic No 8 played any form of rugby was two weeks ago when his shirt was white, the ground was hard and the temperature was pushing 30 degrees Celsius. None of those will be the case this weekend.
The 24-year-old will be back in the Red and Black of Moseley, the conditions underfoot will be less than conducive to a fast pace and if he’s lucky the temperature might be a quarter of what it was when he was playing sevens for his country in Dubai and South Africa earlier this month.
In some respects it has worked out well for Rodwell. He will at least be allowed to re-acclimatise in relatively familiar surroundings and – in Newbury – against relatively modest opposition.
Had things gone to plan and last Saturday’s match not been called off due to a waterlogged playing surface, he would have been thrust back into the English mid-season and midwinter away to London Welsh.
“Coming back home was a bit of a shock to the system. Seeing puddles on the pitch at Old Deer Park was weird,” Rodwell admits. “Playing for England was unbelievable, it was a different world. I enjoyed every minute of it but it was a bit surreal.
“I made my debut against the USA in Dubai, played against Argentina in the quarters. There were 50,000 watching in Dubai, most of them supporting England because of the ex-pat link and that was incredible.
During his time away Rodwell experienced London Bus Syndrome. Having waited five months for his first appearance – he was due to come on against Russia at Murrayfield in June until the match started escaping England – he managed four in eight days, two in the UAE and two more in Georgia.
He returns to Ian Smith’s squad rejuvenated by his dream-like opportunity and determined to make sure he is selected for the next round of the IRB Series in Wellington – New Zealand not Somerset – and San Diego.
In the meantime he will also get the opportunity to demonstrate his new-found ambition. “Sevens gives you a confidence to take on players that I wouldn’t have had a couple of years ago, like taking on a back one-on-one. Maybe before I’d have been head down and cautious.
“The coaches say it aids your XVs game and that you will be fitter. Although I haven’t had a chance to test it yet I feel very fresh at the moment. I have trained a few times since I’ve been back and I do feel light on my feet and ready to go for things.”
That energy and the pace he adds from the back of a scrum will only benefit a Moseley team that need to win their next two matches.
With Newbury at home tomorrow and a Boxing Day trip to Coventry to finish 2008, Mose begin the new year with Exeter, Nottingham, Plymouth and Cornish Pirates to play in the next six league games. National One points will be at a premium during that run.
Moseley currently occupy the final Championship place and enjoy a not inconsiderable 12-point buffer on 12th placed Sedgley Park. This weekend’s match gives them an excellent chance to maintain and even extend it.
“It’s important we keep that gap,” Rodwell says. “You can finish 12th this season and go down – that’s a bit strange for us but I have no doubt we can stay up if we keep playing the rugby we are capable of, convert a few chances and play for an extra five minutes.
“Newbury have got hold of a few new players. You can see last weekend with Exeter drawing with Esher that if we are not at our best there could be an upset.
“Newbury are fighting for their lives so anything could happen. On paper we should dominate and if we play the rugby we can we should win but nothing can be taken for granted.”
Especially international recognition.