Alex Waddingham said the battle to secure a back-row spot in Oxford University’s Varsity Match side meant he could never let up.
Waddingham was named at blindside flanker to face Cambridge University at Twickenham next Thursday after fighting off stiff competition, including last year’s England under 18 captain Gus Jones.
The 23-year-old, who helped Chinnor win promotion to National 2 South last season, said: “I was really excited to be selected. It has been quite a long journey with work commitments and the lectures in education. It is now all coming together at the right time.
“The back row has been very competitive area of the team, which has probably brought out the best in me.
“There was no clear-cut position I was ahead in and I couldn’t relax. But in the last few matches, I managed to make a mark on the six shirt and kept it.”
Waddingham has played for England Students, but says the Varsity Match will be the biggest occasion of his career.
“In terms of playing at Twickenham, the crowd, and the preparation, it’s huge,” said Waddingham.
“I have never been in such an intense build-up where we have been studying the opposition like this.”
Waddingham came through the ranks at Sale under current Dark Blues head coach James Wade and featured for their A team.
He said: “I got offered a contract in the summer of 2011, but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do as I have had a few injuries, so I moved down to Oxford.”
The flanker added: “I have been keeping in touch with the lads at Chinnor.
“Hopefully, a few of the guys will come down to Twickenham to watch and many will be watching on Sky.
“There is a really great bunch of guys at Chinnor and I am looking forward to coming back to them after Christmas.”
Waddingham, a previous graduate of Durham and Loughborough, returned to university this year for a postgraduate certificate in historical studies.
“It was something I always wanted to do,” he said.