PHIL DOWSON says his England exploits last season were ‘a dream come true’.
And he believes representing his country in the Six Nations and on the tour of South Africa has made him a better player.
The Saints star was part of Stuart Lancaster’s new-look England squad for the Six Nations during February and March this year.
He made a positive impression on the men in charge and was handed a place in the squad for the games against the Springboks during the summer.
But now it’s back to club matters with Saints as the Aviva Premiership kicks off on Saturday, and Dowson feels his experiences with his country will aid him in the upcoming campaign.
“Last season was great personally,” said the 30-year-old flanker. “(I had some) tremendous experiences. The Six Nations and the tour of South Africa were almost a dream come true for me.
“The Six Nations results wise was unbelievable. Stuart Lancaster put together a brand new team and we almost won the Six Nations.
“We fell short against Wales but not by much. We won the game against France away – I appreciate I was knocked out in that - and put 30 points on Ireland a week later. They were very special memories.
“When you get in those environments and you’ve played under that sort of pressure, that adds to it (your game).
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing for Old Northamptonians or England, you’re always going to benefit from the experience.
“You’ve just got to make sure you stay fit physically and you’ve always got to be willing to learn and hopefully you’ll continue to improve.”
Dowson is up against the man who rivalled him for the England No.8 shirt during the Six Nations this weekend.
Ben Morgan moved to the Cherry and Whites from the Scarlets during the summer and Dowson is relishing the challenge of keeping his international colleague quiet at Kingsholm.
“Ben’s a great athlete, very powerful and he’s a top man as well,” said the Saints star. “He’s a nice guy so I’ll be reacquainting myself with him, trying to make sure I keep him quiet and he doesn’t make too many yards.
“There’s always a bit of banter but nothing too serious because I’ll be too tired to think of anything.”