To compound his misery, he was prevented from setting the record straight by a succession of serious injuries.
Now, though, the Leeds captain has a relaxed attitude towards the three-Test series in New Zealand, and will take any setback in his stride.
He is a father too, to Hope, which has provided him with a fresh perspective on rugby.
So much so that when he botched a golden try-scoring opportunity in the closing stages of England's Six Nations win over Italy, he responded with a rueful smile.
"You do things sometimes on the field that make you look a prat and that was one of them.
"I've settled down a bit and I've got more important things to worry about than whether I play well or not. Things do go wrong but you've just got to have a laugh and get on with it."
He added: "It is every player's dream to be selected for the Lions, especially this tour to New Zealand.
"I was fortunate to go to Australia last time around and that was an incredible eight weeks and I'm sure this time will be even better.
"I'm absolutely delighted to get the chance to tour with the Lions again, it is an unforgettable experience."