I’ve just got back from my holiday, and it was good to get a break in the sun and spend some time abroad with my good mate James [Haskell]. He is a top lad.
It was really nice to experience a different way of life and let my mind rest after a long Premiership season and a month in New Zealand.
I learnt a lot on tour. Although I’ve been out of the England set-up for some time now, I felt like I slotted back into it fairly quickly. The coaching set up was phenomenal, as were the support staff and I really enjoyed the tour.
Experiencing New Zealand as part of the England squad was a new experience for me, as I had never been abroad on tour with England before. It's something that I hope I can do again in the near future.
It’s also helpful to be around a mixture of players - new guys from different teams – to pick their brains. You make new friends, and it's good to meet up with old ones from the past as well! I've known the likes of Danny Care and Mike Brown for years.
After the success of the Crusaders game, I think everyone felt like we were better placed for a good result in the third test. Unfortunately, that last game didn't go our way. Losing is always hard but that’s international rugby and you’re going to learn a lot more from the difficult games than the easy wins.
Obviously we wanted to win the tests and win the tour, but this is another learning curve and it's important that everyone takes the lessons on board. The results didn’t go our way in New Zealand, but I think it was a successful tour in terms of where we’re at and where we want to be. The building blocks are now in place and we can and will improve ahead of next year's World Cup.
It’s good to now be back in Manchester, training with my Sale teammates. I’ve been in three days now, and it’s been pretty full on so far. I did a few sessions whilst I was away in America, but when I returned home I trained on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get back into it fully.
In terms of the Aviva Premiership schedule for next season, I think that everyone’s going to be thinking about the games already, and where we fell down last season. The most important thing is that we prepare for this coming season as well as we possibly can.
Our squad is looking a lot healthier than last year and I think that everyone’s looking forward to the start of the season at Sale, from the playing staff and coaches all the way down to the fans. The best thing about going away on tour is coming back and being able to bring something new to your club. I hope I can be a positive influence on the squad this season and bring something new to the table.
It’s great for Sale to be playing in the European Cup. Our group is tough, so it will be a challenge, but that’s part and parcel of the experience and I think everyone’s excited to be a part of it. We earned it with our performances last season, and this is a great opportunity for us to make our mark against some fantastic teams.
Finally, I'd like to add my own personal congratulations to Mike Tindall on a fantastic career for both club and country. I was in the World Cup training camp with him in 2007, and it was clear that he’s a student of the game. Not just that, but a great bloke who undoubtedly understands rugby better than most.
He did some part-time coaching last year and I think he would move into coaching very easily. I remember watching him play when I was growing up; he incorporated many different aspects into to his game and as a big guy, to have the skillfulness he does, it’s pretty impressive.