Billy Vunipola can scarcely believe he is in the England rugby squad alongside brother Mako just over a year after landing in hospital with a rare viral infection and a freak hot water bottle accident.
The Wasps No8 missed four months of the last season as a result of the infection, but the 20-year-old has since played a key role in the club's fight for Premiership survival this term and the uncapped back-row forward is now in the same England squad as Mako, an already-capped front-row forward off the bench.
"I was in hospital for quite a long time, so to be sitting here now is quite unbelievable," said Vunipola, who will join his brother at Saracens next season. "I had discitis. I got pneumonia and then I burned my back with a hot water bottle so I was in there for quite a bit longer. I fell asleep on the hot water bottle and forgot to put the outer cover on. When I came out of hospital I had to go on antibiotics and go in for regular checks."
He added: "I am not sure I am about to be an England international just yet, but the prospect of it is really exciting."
Mako is set to make his first Test start against Italy on Sunday in place of Joe Marler as England continue their bid for a first Grand Slam since 2003.
The powerful brothers, sons of former Tonga captain Fe'ao, have long been tipped for Test honors.
England coach Stuart Lancaster is due to name his side to play Italy today.