Dan Lydiate admits the life-threatening neck injury he suffered five years ago is the driving force behind his success.
The fearless flanker has enjoyed a sensational season as Wales roared to a World Cup semi-final and RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam.
Lydiate scooped the Six Nations, Welsh Writers and Welsh Players' player of the year awards following his international heroics.
The Newport Gwent Dragons talisman has also been tipped as a Test Lion during the tour of Australia in a year's time.
And Lydiate has revealed is desperate to make the most out of his career after it was almost ripped away following the terrifying injury in 2007.
"It's really nice to get that pat on the back and know it's not just your Mum that thinks you are a good rugby player!," said Lydiate
"I'm still developing and working on certain aspects of my game. If you stand still you will be overtaken and I want to make the most out of my career.
"After the neck injury I feared I would never play again. I was wondering if I would even be able to walk again or lead a normal life. So it's a bonus just to be playing rugby.
"You only have to look at Lloyd Burns, one of my best mates in the game, who has been told he can never play again which is all he wants to do.
"We're not here for a long time, so while you have that opportunity to play top level rugby there is no point messing around – you need to go into it head on and give everything your best."
The farmer's son was just 19-years-old when he was almost paralysed during a Heineken Cup tie against Perpignan, at Stade Aime Giral. He underwent four hours of emergency surgery after being knocked unconscious and suffering a slipped disc during the clash.
Now, after establishing himself as one of the most effective defenders in the game, Lydiate is focusing on a three-Test summer tour to Australia.
He is determined to build on the season's success to earn the respect of the southern hemisphere giants.
"Off the back of the Grand Slam the next step is to go down to a southern hemisphere team and get a result," added Lydiate.
"We've played Australia a couple of times in the last 12 months, we know a lot about them and they're such a dangerous team with quality throughout. Their back-row is one of the best in the world.
"It's going to be a massive challenge to go down there and get a result but we're up for it and looking forward to getting stuck into them.
"We want to win the respect of the southern hemisphere. We want to be recognised world wide."