The All Blacks' environment used to make him apprehensive, but Aaron Cruden's nerves are no more as he prepares to replace the man he calls the best in the world.
With Dan Carter crocked after straining a hamstring in training on Tuesday, the responsibility of leading the All Blacks' attack in the third test against Ireland at a sold-out Waikato Stadium on Saturday has fallen to his heir apparent.
And the 23-year-old Cruden declared he felt increasingly comfortable carrying the burden - a stark contrast from when he made his debut against the same opposition in 2010.
"I think I've matured a lot over the last couple of years," he said. "When I first came in I was really nervous. I changed a lot of my techniques and routines because I didn't want to not note anything down or miss things and let the team down.
"Coming in now, I'm just a lot more relaxed about it. I'm stuck in my routine which has been working for me in the last couple of years. I'm just doing that no matter what team I'm playing for - be it Manawatu, the Chiefs or the All Blacks."
A significant amount of Cruden's initial angst would have been tied to the boots he was attempting to fill. Cruden's first appearance in a black jersey came as a replacement for Carter and he has long been tipped as a successor to the 30-year-old.
"It's always hard because Dan is obviously the best in the world," Cruden, who has played 10 tests, said. "All you can do is really just focus on your role, nail that throughout the week and try and put as much pressure on him as you can.
"Then, when you're called upon during the weekends, just step up to the mark and do everything you can to help the team perform well."
That's what the Chiefs first-five will be doing on his home paddock in Hamilton this weekend as the All Blacks seek a sweep of the three test series, and he will aided by a belief he is now near Carter's level.
"I'm definitely going to be out there trying to stake my claim and keep Dan on his toes if I can, and really push to get another start.
"A couple of years ago I probably wasn't as mature as I am now. I think the move up north really helped me get relaxed and get stuck in my routine and my ways."
That move, leaving the Hurricanes to join provincial coach Dave Rennie, has seen Cruden excel as a leader for the form Super Rugby side in the competition. Cruden credits much of his success to Rennie and assistant Wayne Smith, a couple of "rugby brains" he is constantly picking for information.
"As much as I can get out of them, I think it's going to benefit me. I'm always talking to those guys about my personal game and also the way the team's going."
Cruden certainly has the backing of current coach Steve Hansen, who said the injury-enforced absence of Carter added to the challenge of maintaining the All Blacks' 107-year unbeaten record over Ireland.
"We've got a lot of faith in Aaron Cruden. He came on well in the first test, he's played Super Rugby extremely well, and I'm expecting nothing less from him when he puts on his test jersey."
And, like last week when Carter came through, if the conclusion to the encounter calls for a drop goal Cruden was quietly confident of success.
"I'm not too bad, I'm always practising when we go out kicking. Hopefully it doesn't come down to that but if it does we'll see if we can nudge one over."
- APNZBy Kris Shannon Email Kris