Twelve months is a long time in professional rugby.
Just a year ago, Malakai Fekitoa was a shy 21-year-old heading out of his comfort zone to Dunedin to try to prove a few points - to himself as much as to the man who didn't seem to want him, Blues coach John Kirwan.
Having to hold hit shields at the Blues, and show his worth for his Pakuranga club, for whom he was electric in the Gallaher Shield final, and Auckland, were his lot for 2013.
But Jamie Joseph and the Highlanders made an astute buy and the rest is history. After scorching the Blues for a try on his debut, Fekitoa uncorked the try of the season against the Sharks and found his way into the All Blacks, making no less than eight appearances, and scoring the winning try in the Brisbane Bledisloe. His mistake rate was low - barring the odd overshooting in the defensive line - and he soaked up information swiftly. The natural centre also showed he can play second five, adding a string to his bow.
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A thoughtful Fekitoa looked refreshed, relaxed and fit speaking to the Herald at the Super Rugby season launch. "I am really grateful I've come through and achieved those goals in the last 12 months. It's different now and I know it's going to be harder coming into my second year." The pressure is good pressure, he says.
"That's what I learned going into the All Blacks: how to deal with pressure, and how to deal with mistakes on and off the field."
He knows the Highlanders will not be creeping up on the competition and into the playoffs in 2015, as they did in 2014. "Everyone knows how we play now and how we scored all those tries last year. But I think there are 13 new guys and they will bring stuff no one has seen."
All things being equal, Jason Emery and Shaun Treeby will jostle for the No12 jersey inside Fekitoa. With Lima Sopoaga at No10, that appeals as a more than useful combination, with the two Smiths providing some x-factor.
Disappointed to play just the Scotland test on the November tour, Fekitoa refocused for a big 2015.
"The first few weeks of my break I thought about Rugby World Cup. It was tough knowing that guys like Sonny Bill [Williams] were back. Last year I kind of wanted it bad, and didn't always focus on what I needed to do first. But all my friends, family and coaches helped me realise that if I didn't do the little things right, then I won't get it."
Though Fekitoa has an Auckland ITM Cup contract until 2016, he is yet to cement a Super Rugby deal after 2015. Surely the Highlanders are working overtime to nail this down.