Matt Stevens elated by England return after drugs ban

Prop Matt Stevens has described his return to the England fold following a drugs ban as "an amazing story".

In 2009, the 28-year-old was banned for two years after testing positive for cocaine but England have named him in a provisional 40-man World Cup squad.

"For me and my family it is an amazing story and one I'm very happy turned out well," Stevens told BBC Sport.

"I know what a special, amazing feeling it is to play for England. I know how important it is to me."

Stevens surprised many in January when he told the BBC his ban was "the best thing that ever happened to me" and how he had since found a balance in his life.

However, legendary middle distance runner turned BBC commentator Steve Cram prompted debate when he said athletes caught for recreational drug use should not face a punishment as severe as an automatic two-year ban.

Asked about the players in the revised provisional squad, which will be cut again to 30 for the World Cup starting in September, Stevens said: "It's a squad with a huge amount of competition and has still got all the props vying for a place. There is huge depth in the front-row positions.

"They definitely see me as a tight-head so what's more important is, if I do get a chance to play in these warm-up games, to prove myself and prove that I can play at international level."

The Saracens and former Bath prop, who collected 32 caps for England between 2003 and 2008, also gave his view of the controversy surrounding England's new black away kit, which former New Zealand wing Jonah Lomu criticised for being disrespectful to the All Blacks.

"To be completely honest, the players haven't really thought about it. We're not here to disrespect anyone - it's got a red rose on it and that's all we care about," Stevens said.