Former Lions tourist Lewis Moody is experiencing mixed emotions as he settles into life after rugby.
The 34-year-old flanker was forced to call time on his stellar career in March after he failed to fully recover from a nasty shoulder injury.
Moody, who captained England at the 2011 World Cup having picked up a tournament winners’ medal back in 2003, admits he still wishes he was out there on the battlefield but insists he is enjoying a more relaxed way of life now he is no longer a ful-time pro.
“It's an exciting time and I feel incredibly relaxed after playing sport for 16 years,” Moody told Sky Sports.
“After retiring I wanted to give myself a year to sort out which direction I want to go in. It's a nice period, albeit slightly daunting. It's unusual, I have to admit.
“I think I'm past that stage (of thinking about what might have been) simply because the decision was taken out of my hands by the injury. I didn't have the choice – I didn't say 'right, I'm going to retire now'. I just knew that I wouldn't be able to play again.
“That possibly made it easier in my head to deal with. But every time I see a game I think 'God, I wish I was out there'.
“I watched the (England) South Africa series and I thought the guys were fantastic, but I did yearn to be out there at that point. That euphoric moment when you win, or the depression when you lose, there is nothing to replicate that in life outside of sport.”
While his former Bath, Leicester and England colleagues are preparing for another season of hard graft as the 2013 Lions tour looms large, Moody is embarking on a new life – one filled with family holidays, charity commitments and coaching interests.
“At my life at the minute there isn't that pressure. There will be, though, because I will put that pressure on myself to do well in whatever I decide to do next,” added the man who scored the Lions’ solitary try in the final Test of their 2005 tour of New Zealand.
"For now, I'm just making the most of the period of time I have off. I'm certainly more relaxed and have enjoyed plenty of holidays.
"I have been working as well. I don't have a job but I'm either at dinners, doing Q&As, coaching or doing charity work. The charities that I was involved in I could only give a small amount of time to during my career – now they can be given a lot more.
"I'm involved with 'Crohn's and Colitis UK', because I suffer from colitis, so I'm helping to spread the word. With Manchester United footballer Darren Fletcher possibly not being able to come back and play, it's a great time to spread the awareness whilst it's in the public domain."