It has taken five years, 28 tests, hours of painful self-analysis and a return to Edinburgh, the place where it all began, for Isaia Toeava to be convinced that he's worthy of All Black status.

It was in the Scottish capital in 2005 that he made his debut, a shell-shocked 19-year-old bemused by what he had done to be plucked from the obscurity of the Auckland bench to be hauled on tour with the All Blacks. Painfully shy and chronically lacking in confidence, Toeava was thrust into the All Black No15 jersey back then with the world expecting fireworks. They never came.

Hailed a potential superstar by the All Black coaches, Toeava was buried under the weight of expectation - too much had been given to him too soon, a point conceded by the very men who thrust him into the spotlight that dazzled him.

"There is a lot more self-belief in the young man now than there was back then," says All Black assistant coach Steve Hansen. "He was pretty overawed back then by then and probably wondered what he was doing here to be honest. Maybe we could have waited a bit longer before selecting him, but we didn't so ..."

Without the virtue of patience, the selectors left Toeava in an impossible place where he was destined to fail. An element of belligerence consumed the selectors in regard to Toeava's earlier career - desperate to prove they were right, they stuck by him, insistent the magic would come. It was a vicious cycle where the harder they talked him up, the more he failed to deliver.

Had he been made of lesser stuff, Toeava could have been nothing more than a trivia question - the short-lived All Black capped at 19 and washed up at 20. But he will take his place on the right wing at Murrayfield on Sunday morning, confident he can take another step towards fulfilling the destiny he was promised in 2005.

His pace, strength, booming right boot and excellent long passing have always been evident at Super rugby. Converting those portfolio components into sustained rugby excellence at test level is the challenge, one that Toeava is so much better equipped to conquer now that he's broken through at least some of his shell.

"He's a lot more mature and understands a lot better what is expected from a professional athlete," says Hansen. "He was bitterly disappointed in his performance in Hong Kong and rightly so. But I thought he played pretty well when he came on in England and I think that is the maturity - he's handling those setbacks a lot better than when he was young."

In a modern world where coaches talk of growth it is easy to be dismissive - consider it the jargon of the age, an immeasurable term used to placate those whose contribution is not obvious. But in the case of Toeava there is no doubt he is a different man to the boy who sat in the All Black team hotel five years ago, the hail pelting off the windows, open-mouthed, eyes down clearly hoping someone would have the decency to come forward and tell him he'd been the victim of a terrible practical joke.

These days he's a gesticulator, a talker - a player prepared to have his voice heard. A ghost in the Edinburgh mist five years ago, Toeava could well slip past defenders in an ethereal way this Sunday, but the world will this time know he's there.

WHAT: All Blacks vs Scotland
WHERE: Murrayfield
WHEN: 6.15am Sunday (NZT)
TV: Sky Sport 1