2005 Lions wing Mark Cueto has made good use out of his nine-week suspension by undergoing knee surgery to ensure he is fully fit for the World Cup.
Cueto, who made five appearances during the tour of New Zealand six years ago, was handed the ban after pleading guilty to making contact with the eye area of Northampton Saints’ Christian Day.
But the Sale star has admitted the enforced absence has had a silver lining, allowing him to have a cartilage problem rectified.
"The fact the suspension may have helped me for the World Cup has been the positive view I've taken," said Cueto.
"The injury was manageable, I could train and play, but the surgeon was very happy post-op that we'd made the decision to do it.
"He was pretty certain that with the intensity of the World Cup camp and warm-up games, it could have become a bigger problem further down the line.
"Given that I had that window of extra time because of the ban, it was a good decision to have the operation.
"If I hadn't had it, I'd have carried on until the end of the season at least, as long as it didn't get worse.
"And then at the end of the season, I don't know if I'd have been happy to do it so close to the World Cup camp."
England face the Barbarians on Sunday and join up on Monday before their pre-World Cup begins in July.
The RBS 6 Nations Champions then face warm-up matches against Grand Slam party-crashers Ireland and twice against Wales.
Cueto is forbidden from speaking about the offence that led to his suspension until it expires on June 7 but he admits he is already itchy to get back.
“ I've had five weeks off this summer, which is the longest break I've had in over 10 years," added Cueto.
"I'm actually keen to get back to training. Every year you get such little time off. Before you know it you're back in for pre-season training and you're almost not hungry because you haven't had enough time off.
"But now I'm really keen to get back involved. I had the operation, went on holiday and have been back a week."
Cueto has two more weeks of rehab left and hopes to be back to full fitness by mid-June. And he is confident England can go all the way in September’s showpiece tournament.
"We're in a better position now than we were before the last World Cup," he added. "In itself that suggests that hopefully we can get to the final once again.
"We're confident of where we're at. We've had a great 12 months."