Atu Moli admits he thought his World Cup chances were over after featuring in the All Blacks' heavy defeat to the Wallabies in Perth – in just his second cap for the national side.
But on Wednesday, he heard his name called out among the 31-men who will head to Japan to defend the Webb Ellis Cup, capping off what has been a "crazy week".
Moli, who made his international debut against the French XV in 2017, has been high on the All Blacks' radar in the last couple years despite suffering a horrific, potentially career-ending, quad injury that saw him miss the entire Super Rugby season in 2018.
His athleticism and ball-carrying skills makes him exactly what Steve Hansen and company are looking for in props, in this new era of free-running, mobile rugby.
But the inexperienced loosehead was still seen by many as an outside chance to make the World Cup squad, especially with the likes of All Black centurion Owen Franks in the running for the five prop spots.
Even Moli, who made his second All Black appearance as a substitute in Perth, thought he had blown his chance.
"I guess for me I'm quite hard on myself just with the expectation they've set and the standard they've set, the ABs," Moli said.
"And for me, reflecting back on my game it wasn't that great and then I thought you know that's me done in the ABs.
"It's quite special to get named."
Apart from his on-field skills, Moli also got the nod over Franks largely thanks to his specialty as a loosehead, with the All Blacks likely looking for more balance in the squad.
The 24-year-old says it was tough not to hear Franks' name, who he says has been an important mentor during his time with the All Blacks.
"I think when my name got called … it was hard for me to not hear Owen's name because he really helped me when I was in the Championship series. He's been a really good guy to me."
What made it easier, however, was a little trick he played on his family while watching the squad announcement on TV.
"I was just with family and at the start of it I told them I didn't make the squad," he said. "Just to calm the nerves down I told them I didn't make it. Once they announced my name on the TV they just started crying."
It will be another emotional time for Moli (who is of Tongan heritage) and his family if he gets the opportunity to play for the All Blacks against Tonga in Hamilton a week from Saturday.
"It'll be a special moment for me and my family. Just going up against your own culture it's going to be special. I've got a lot of family that's already asking for tickets. We only get four. It will be those lucky four."
After a whirlwind couple of years, Moli can finally count himself lucky.