Schalk Brits has admitted that he thought his international career was over before receiving a surprise Bok call-up last week.
The dynamic Saracens hooker last played for the Springboks in 2008, after which he made a highly succesful move to the Premiership, playing a key role as Saracens dominated the competition in 2011.
Although Brits has been one of the most dangerous players in the Premiership in the last few years, the 31-year-old did not expect to get a call from Bok coach Heyneke Meyer ahead of the year-end tour.
He told the Daily Telegraph: "I never imagined that when I played against Australia in Perth in 2008, that it would be my last cap. But it looked that way. You always have a dream, you always hope, but the reality was there.
"I knew I'd made my bed in many ways by coming to Saracens three years ago. The chances of playing for my country again were slim to nothing," he said.
Brits realises that he is likely to play a supporting role, but is viewing the tour as an opportunity to show that he can make as much of an impact in the Test arena.
"And now? Well, look, there are a stack of injuries in the Springboks, I've got the call and if they want me to hold a tackle bag, I'll hold a tackle bag, come on for 30 seconds at the end of a game, I'll come on with a smile on my face. I'm going to relish every second. It's a second lease of life," he said.
Brits believes that the key to his success in England has been the positive environment at Saracens, which has given him the opportunity to make the most of his abilities.
"Beyond my wildest imaginings, I can't believe how it's turned out," he said.
"Brendan Venter sold me his vision for Saracens and, boy, it's been better than even he described it."
"Saracens have made rugby fun again. There's hard work to do, of course and I have to say my front five forwards around me have made me look good. But there's so much more to it all at Saracens."