Double Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale is assured he's still on track for Tokyo selection, despite poor recent results.

Drysdale's quest of claiming an Olympic gold three-peat in the single scull hit rocky waters last week, with injury woes and a lacklustre performance at the North Island club championships raising concern.

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The 41-year-old failed to qualify for the men's single scull final at Lake Karapiro, after finishing fifth in the second heat with a time of seven minutes 57.53 seconds, as younger rival Robbie Manson took out the title.

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But Drysdale has since revealed a minor shoulder injury had played a role in his poor showing at the regatta and assured his training remained on track.

"I wasn't able to test out my shoulder before the race and obviously once I started racing I knew I probably wasn't capable of doing what I needed to," Drysdale told Radio Sport.

Mahe Drysdale racing in the Christmas Regatta on Lake Karapiro. Photo / Photosport
Mahe Drysdale racing in the Christmas Regatta on Lake Karapiro. Photo / Photosport

"That was obviously disappointing to finish like that ... my hope was I could get through the heat and by the Monday I was going to be good enough to race at a pretty good standard but I probably was a little bit ahead of myself.

"It's taken me two weeks but I'm very much back on track ... Every day it gets slightly better so I've just been building up."

Unlike previous years, New Zealand's 2020 Olympic rowing team won't be known until just two months before the Games due to a new selection process.

Instead of holding a set trial event, the Rowing New Zealand selection panel have been tracking athletes over the summer season.

Drysdale, who was part of the men's eight last year but is now gunning to take his singles seat back from Manson, said he believes the new policy could work in his favour.

"I think it's quite progressive in the fact that they realise in the past, by having these big peaks or big trials, sometimes that sort of influences and means that potentially you're not at your best when you want to be - which is the Olympics or the World Champs," he said.

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"Obviously you're putting a lot more trust in the selectors because it's up to them to look at all the results and make a little bit more of a judgement call ... but I do think it is probably a good step forward.

"I'm very confident in where I'm at right now and as the year develops, I'll be in very good shape to perform like I think I can at the World Cups and World Champs."