The hard work has paid off for TJ Perenara. After missing out on the All Blacks squad that played Wales in June, the Hurricanes halfback was given a list of things to work-on.
After working over-time after every Hurricanes training session, Perenara has been rewarded with a starting spot against Argentina in Buenos Ares on Sunday. It will be his fifth start for the All Blacks in what will be his 24th test cap.
"It was tough not being named in June. I got a call from Shandy (team manager Darren Shand) saying I had missed out on the squad but I'd be there as injury cover for Tawera. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
"I was gutted at the time as I guess a lot of people are when they miss out on the team and I thought I'd been playing some decent footy throughout the year. I got given some work-ons that I had to take home from June and I feel like I'm in a better place and I've still got a lot of room for improvement."
After missing out on squad selection in June, Perenara helped the Hurricanes win their maiden Super Rugby title and impressed off the bench against the Pumas at Waikato Stadium.
Perenara said he worked an hour on the work-ons after each Hurricanes training session - with the help of Hurricanes squad member Hugh Renton.
"I'm very proud to be given a start. I remember the day when Shands called me. I was gutted. To now be given a start I thank the people around me who helped me with the extras."
"It's a good feeling. I know it's another step in the right direction. I've just got to make sure when I get out there I do my job well. "
Hurricanes skipper Dane Coles, selected again at hooker for the All Blacks, said of his franchise team-mate: "Coming back since June, he performed so well for the Hurricanes. He's a very competitive man, I don't think I've met anyone so competitive. I know he would have taken that [non-selection] pretty hard, but he loves proving people wrong. It's awesome seeing him get a start because he's a great player."