Ethan de Groot is putting his frustrations behind him ahead of his first test start in the No 1 jersey this weekend.
The past few months have been a tough stretch for the All Blacks prop, who has been unable to get onto the park due to injuries.
A neck injury meant his involvement in the Rugby Championship was nothing more than limited reps on the training paddock – some of those coming at the back of the scrum rather than in the front row.
While the 23-year-old admits he found himself in a negative space at times during his recovery, the reality of the situation always put things in perspective.
"What have I got to be upset about? I'm on tour, I'm in the All Blacks – I am an All Black," de Groot said.
"There were times I was getting a bit upset with getting a small amount of opportunities at training because there's so many of us, but a few of the boys have got my back and we all look after each other here. It's been a long time away from home."
During that time, de Groot focused on learning what he could from the veterans in the squad, getting to test himself against the likes of Ofa Tuungafasi and Nepo Laulala on the training pitch with the two tightheads teaching the young loosehead plenty at the set piece.
"Ofa and Nepo, they hand my ass to me every now and then and I learn from it," de Groot said.
"Neeps, in my opinion, is the best tighthead in the world at the moment. He gets me every now and then, but sometimes I catch him napping."
Now at full fitness, de Groot will make his first start for the All Blacks when they take on the USA Eagles at FedEx Field in Washington DC on Sunday morning - one of 12 players with 10 test caps or fewer named in the 23-man squad for the test.
Speaking of the selection, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he was excited about the opportunity to get de Groot out on the park for his third test cap after not being able to do so during the Rugby Championship.
"I've seen him grow through this period," Foster said. "He went through a period of frustration when he couldn't play, particularly when he couldn't train with his neck. He kept wanting to jump in there and do stuff. You certainly can't question his attitude and desire to play.
"Like all players when they're coming back from injury, they get a bit fidgety and just want to play. He's trained well, prepared well. We're excited about him; he's very much a player for the future. He's very strong and just can't wait to get out there, so I felt it was better just to give him the starting jersey. There's a lot of energy there and I think he would've gotten pretty fidgety on the bench because he's waited a long time for it. But he thoroughly deserves the start."
All Blacks team: Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan, Braydon Ennor, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Finlay Christie; Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papalii, Luke Jacobson, Tupou Vaa'i, Sam Whitelock (captain), Angus Ta'avao, Asafo Aumua, Ethan de Groot.
Reserves: Dane Coles, George Bower, Tyrel Lomax, Josh Lord, Sam Cane, T.J. Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Anton Lienert-Brown.