Injury has meant Ngarohi McGarvey-Black hasn't been able to share in the All Blacks Sevens' major triumphs this year at the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup.
But now the 22-year-old from Ruatoki is fit again, has a freshly minted contract with New Zealand Rugby, has just had his first on-field action in more than six months and is ready for more as another Sevens World Series draws near.
"I'm just happy to be part of the team again for this season," says McGarvey-Black.
"I got a call-up to go the Commonwealth Games, went over there, played a warm-up game against Aussie before the tournament then got a high ankle sprain which ruled me out of the Com Games. So I had to come home, recover and do my rehab to be fit again for Singapore," he says.
"I managed that, so I went to Singapore and played our last game of the tournament against Samoa and snapped my finger, so that put me out for the rest of the season."
The former Rotorua Boys' High School student has been out of rugby for the whole winter but seems philosophical about only being able to train and not play.
"It's great being in an environment like this," he says, referring to the Adams High Performance Centre at Blake Park where he's been training for the last six months.
"You're still full-time rugby. It feels like you're playing but there are those times on the field you kind of miss. Other times you're analysing or watching it and it just feels like you're out there with the boys. Nothing really changes. You're still around the rugby scene."
His coach is impressed.
"We're excited with Ngarohi. He burst onto the scene last year before he got hurt. He's been here since day one of pre-season. He's got himself in great condition. His rugby is really thriving at the moment and he had some massive minutes at the weekend," said Clark Laidlaw, referring to McGarvey-Black's performance at the Oceania Sevens in Fiji.
McGarvey-Black is proud of where he comes from, and the extraordinary rugby heritage being fostered in Ruatoki.
"There's only one rugby field there and that's where everyone learns their trade. There's some big names come from there like (Blues first five) Otere Black, (World Cup winning Black Fern) Stacey Waaka, (Taranaki fullback) Beaudein Waaka. There's quite a few of us from our little village."
McGarvey-Black is one of five All Blacks Sevens players who were confirmed on new contracts yesterday.
The experienced Kurt Baker, who's now 30 and has two Commonwealth Games gold medals to his name, has signed on till 2020.
Akuila Rokolisoa made his first appearances for the All Blacks Sevens in Hong Kong this year, then went on to be part of the Gold Coast and San Francisco triumphs. Like McGarvey-Black, he's contracted through to the end of next year.
There are also two teenagers brought into the group. Niko Jones, son of the great Sir Michael and a star of St Peters College National 1st XV championship winning team will arrive at Blake Park after his school exams finish and Scott Gregory, from the Northland Taniwha and New Zealand Under 20s, will join him soon.
The first event of the 2018-19 Sevens World Series is in Dubai at the end of this month, followed the week after by the South African leg in Cape Town.
Although Olympic gold in 2020 remains the Holy Grail for the All Blacks Sevens, Laidlaw is quick to point out that first, the team has to qualify through this year's World Series.
"We have to finish in the top four this season. But we talk a lot about how we haven't won the World Series since 2013. That consistency has eluded us for a little bit of time. Getting those young players here is part of trying to get consistency.
"So that's our challenge. We know we can win one or two tournaments through the year. The challenge is to finish in the top four each tournament to pick off those points and accumulate so we can win the series."
The team for the first two tournaments will travel to Abu Dhabi next Tuesday to prepare for the heat of the Dubai tournament.
"I think it's over 10 years since we won in Dubai," says Laidlaw.
"We have a tricky little group with Wales, Spain and the USA on day one."