Warnings about his fitness have piggybacked Steven Luatua's second year with the All Blacks.
He got the message from coach Steve Hansen before the June test series with England then suffered in the loose-forward squeeze created by Jerome Kaino's return.
Kaino filled in at No8 while Kieran Read regained his health and confidence after being concussed as Victor Vito and Liam Messam jostled for the blindside flanker duties.
Vito then damaged a calf muscle and missed the final test against England before he and the medics decided it was time for the loose-forward to have an extended break to repair a herniated disc in his neck.
That meant a Rugby Championship reprieve for Luatua who had been left to work on his fitness and ponder how much he wanted to add to his 11 All Black caps.
Luatua started against the Boks in Wellington and came off the bench in two other tests.
Those efforts were solid but not enough to sway the selectors' ideas about picking two specialists in each loose-forward role among the 34 players for the end of year tour to the US and UK.
They wanted a renewed emphasis on cover for Kieran Read at No8 and Vito fitted that template.
He was fit again, had shown out in a brief return to ITM Cup work for Wellington and won the ballot.
Joining Luatua on the sidelines is Colin Slade who kicked the injury time conversion to give the All Blacks their 29-28 victory in the final Bledisloe Cup test at Brisbane.
Others who have been picked in the squad or been in the wider training group this season but have missed out are lock Dominic Bird, wing Patrick Osborne and loosie Matt Todd.
Injury to halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow opened up a place for the only uncapped player Augustine Pulu who gets a chance with Andy Ellis on a club contract in Japan.
Sonny Bill Williams is back in midfield alongside new find Malakai Fekitoa and the reliable Ryan Crotty who will all compete to fill the void left by the injured Ma'a Nonu.
If Daniel Carter is fit to board the plane to Chicago on Sunday, he will ramp up the competition with Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett while he could also be used in midfield.
Originally the selectors planned on taking 33 on tour but they increased that to include lock Luke Romano who is fit again after missing the entire ITM Cup with a leg injury.