Ireland lock Kieran Treadwell revealed a pre-match text message from his fiancee helped trigger his international renaissance ahead of a potential first Test start for more than five years.
The 27-year-old’s lengthy national team exile ended in February with a try-scoring cameo in the Guinness Six Nations win over Italy.
He has remained in favour under Andy Farrell, coming off the bench in Saturday’s 19-16 victory over world champions South Africa following three substitute appearances in the 2-1 summer series success over the All Blacks.
With head coach Farrell expected to make changes for this weekend’s clash with Fiji, Treadwell is likely to be handed a long-awaited opportunity from the first whistle.
The England-born Ulster player credits wife-to-be Beth with reigniting his love of rugby and, ultimately, sparking his Test comeback.
“When I first came in I was quite young, so when I didn’t get the call for the next camp it was quite tough to take for me because my focus was ‘I need to get picked’,” said Treadwell, who has nine Ireland caps.
“I used to put a lot of personal pressure on myself. I was very much outcome-based in what I did, whereas nowadays I really enjoy going through the process of getting better.
“It was actually my fiancee that said it. She would text before each of my games, ‘good luck’ or whatever. Once she texted, ‘go out and enjoy yourself’.
“And I remember looking at it and thinking, ‘yeah, I will.’ That was the trigger for me.
“Obviously there is the pressure of a big occasion.
“But you have to remember to go out there and enjoy it and play the best rugby you can because you’ve been selected for a reason.”
Treadwell’s only Test start to date came against Japan in June 2017 during the tenure of Joe Schmidt.
He won three caps in total that year but did not feature again for the country of his mother’s birth until returning with a bang against the Italians less than nine months ago.
The former England Under-20 international was the only member of Farrell’s squad to play in all five games on the tour of New Zealand, starting twice against the Maori All Blacks and coming off the bench in each of the three Tests.
He is targeting a trip to next year’s World Cup in France as he competes for a second-row spot with the likes of vice-captain James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne and provincial team-mate Iain Henderson.
“It was a bit unexpected to get that inclusion for the Six Nations,” said the Carshalton-born forward.
“And then I just thought to myself, ‘I have a taste for this. I’m not letting this go again. I’ve got to keep on performing’.
“I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level and that, to me, is the highest level, the World Cup. It’s massive.
“It’s obviously in the back of my mind, it’s a goal but I’m very much focused on the weekend and hopefully the rest will look after itself.”