Ryan Jones has revealed that injury almost wrecked his World Cup dream.
The former Wales captain, who missed the 2007 showpiece because of a shoulder injury, has been battling against a calf problem since August.
But the 30-year-old back-rower finally entered the World Cup stage on Monday in Wales' 81-7 win over Namibia.
"It has been a very emotional week for me," admitted Jones. "It was only 10 days ago that I was verging on going home on a plane. That was tough."
The Ospreys forward starred in Wales two Grand Slam winning campaigns in 2005 and 2008, and impressed on the British and Irish Lions tour in New Zealand in 2005.
But the latest injury set-back threatened to deny Jones the chance of appearing at rugby's showpiece tournament.
"Personally, it is a relief that I have played in a World Cup and I survived 80 minutes," said Jones, who won the first of 54 Wales caps against South Africa in November 2004.
"I have been waiting seven years for that, it has been a long time coming.
"I came so close four years ago and ten days ago I was on a plane home. Someone is smiling on me, though, as somehow I got on the field.
"The medical staff have been fantastic and the coaching team gave me an opportunity.
"It was really special. Playing in a World Cup is something I have always aspired to do and dreamt of.
"Hopefully, I have been able to repay it and maybe I will get a chance to do it again."
Jones' return to full fitness from persistent calf trouble has given the Wales a timely boost as they build towards a probable quarter-final against Ireland in Wellington on 8 October.
Wales demolished Namibia by scoring 12 tries, nine in the second-half, as a bonus-point triumph kept them on course to finish as Pool D runners-up behind world champions South Africa.
And while Jones admits his calf "tightened" at the end of Wales' Namibian triumph in New Plymouth, he will be fit to face Fiji in Hamilton on Sunday.
"I've barely done any rugby training since the England game," said Jones.
"Let alone play any rugby so I wanted to have a positive contribution against Namibia and I felt comfortable I did that.
"I have come through in one piece. And Alun Wyn Jones put his size 13s on my hand. But I will be OK."