Alun Wyn Jones admittted he feared he would never play for Wales again after his Twickenham sin bin.
And the Ospreys lock insists he is a lucky man to get another crack at Test level in Saturday's Six Nations showdown with Scotland in Cardiff.
Jones, 24, said: "It was one of the most stupid and idiotic acts I have ever done on a rugby field and I thought it would jeopardise my international career. You have to have that view when you make such a mistake because the opportunities to play Test rugby are few and far between.
"I am fortunate but I've been given this second opportunity now. I don't want to try too hard because that's when you make silly mistakes but I obviously want to put some wrongs right."
Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards confronted the British Lions second-row star in the dressing room following the costly sin-binning and warned him never to repeat his actions.
But Kiwi coach Gatland believes the incident at HQ has been put firmly behind them. Gatland said: "It was dealt with straight away in the dressing room and is dead and buried.
"Everyone makes mistakes and I'm sure he and the other players will learn from it. Sometimes you get away with having 14 men but we didn't."
But Jones accepts the Welsh management were correct to single him out for punishment. He added: "Shaun and Warren were right with what they said. When Warren first came in he said he would be honest with the players. It is refreshing and I respect him for saying it.
"It's a cut-throat mentality we haven't had before and Gats has brought that off-field southern hemipshere cutting edge. Hopefully that will provide dividends for us."
Gatland has made just two changes for the clash at the Millennium Stadium with wing Leigh Halfpenny and line-out specialist Jonathan Thomas preferred to Tom James and Luke Charteris with fit-again prop Gethin Jenkins on the bench.
Gatland said: "Jonathan is experienced and will bring us some extra mobility while Leigh offers us an extra kicking option."
Wales: L Byrne; L Halfpenny, J Hook, J Roberts, S Williams; S Jones, G Cooper; P James, G Williams, A Jones, AW Jones, J Thomas, A Powell, R Jones (capt), M Williams
Replacements: G Jenkins, H Bennett, B Davies, S Warburton, R Rees, A Bishop, T Shanklin
Meet the members of the WRU's inaugural Youth Board - after an online selection process which saw a host of high calibre candidates submit video applications the WRU has made its first 15 appointments.The board is made up of individuals aged between 16 and 21, and will meet for the first time at Principality Stadium on Monday 15th February.
The Wales Women's team headed to Dare Valley Country Park on a team bonding exercise as the entire squad got together for the very first time in preparation for this season's Six Nations championship which kicks off on Saturday with a clash against defending champions Ireland, in Donnybrook.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland discusses his team selection for the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations where he leads his side against Ireland, on Sunday. As WRU TV's Luke Brodley discovers, Gatland is fully aware of the challenges the defending champions pose