MIKE Stanley has revealed how lining up for Southend helped him get back on the road to rugby stardom.

Stanley has been selected in Samoa’s squad for the Rugby World Cup which gets underway this weekend.

But the 25-year-old fly-half, who last played for Southend in 2013, has now told Echosport just how important his spells at Warners Bridge proved to be.

“I had fallen out of love with rugby if I’m honest and it was playing for Southend which helped me to get it back again,” said Stanley.

“Being there allowed me to play with my mates and it was great fun.

“It may not have been the best thing to do in terms of what standard to be playing at, but I needed to get that enjoyment back because I had forgotten rugby was supposed to be fun.

“I got that back from playing at Southend and I’m still very close to a lot of people there so it’s a club that is always going to be very close to my heart.”

Stanley, who started at Thurrock Rugby Club and attended Corringham’s Gable Hall School, moved on from Southend – who were in the National Two South, three steps below the Premiership – to team up with Ponsonby in New Zealand.

From there he was picked up by Counties Manuku, the ITM Cup side coached by former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga but still returned to Southend in their off-season.

However, his fine form soon resulted in an international call-up.

But Stanley does not like to look back on how far he has come in such a short space of time.

“I do have to pinch myself about how quickly everything has happened but I don’t really like to look back if I’m honest,” said Stanley, who ended last season playing for Ulster in Ireland.

Mike Stanley in action during his spell with Southend

“If you do that then it can lead to you questioning whether or not you think you’re ready to playing at such a good level and that’s happened to me in the past.

“I only like to look forward now and I’m incredibly excited about the World Cup.

“It’s the biggest stage you can play on in rugby and I’ll be working as hard as I can to get some game time.”

Samoa kick off their campaign against USA on Sunday before they also take on South Africa, Japan and Scotland.

Should Samoa progress to the quarter finals then they are likely to take on either England or Australia.