But since then he has played a decisive role as Saracens stormed to the Aviva Premiership crown and England Saxons booked their place in the Churchill Cup final.
In total the versatile prop has played 15 games, winning them all.
Martin Johnson names his 30-man squad for the trip to New Zealand on August 29, and Stevens is aiming to add to his 34-caps.
"It couldn't have gone any better and I feel like I'm in a really good place," Stevens, 28, told the Telegraph.
"There was never a moment of epiphany, a precise moment when I knew I wanted to get back. It was a long process.
"I always had confidence in my ability although those first few weeks of match scrums were like being in a car crash. I knew that I still had my competitive edge but it's about having that feeling not for just one or two games but for a whole season of games. I knew that I still wanted it badly, knew that I was still ambitious.
Stevens' versatility will be a major advantage come World Cup selection. While the 2005 New Zealand tourist has won the majority of his caps at tighthead, he has largely played on the loosehead for Saracens.
"I'm definitely a more accomplished loosehead than I was," said Stevens.
"Playing both sides throws up different challenges. Of course, getting into a World Cup squad is a goal for any player. But it'll be tough. I'd say that there's more competition for a front-row spot now than there was in 2007. It's certainly been quite a bit faster out there playing, harder, too."