One of Julian Savea’s greatest obstacles this season has been confidence, but he need only look at one of the All Blacks’ greatest players to see how quickly things can turn around.
Savea has been called back into the New Zealand starting team after an injury to Waisake Naholo, the latest chapter of a seesawing season for him.
His try against the Wallabies gave him his first five-pointer at ANZ Stadium and got him to 40 Test tries, faster than any All Blacks player in history.
Wherever Savea’s internal confidence sits now, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says outsiders need only look at the run of Dan Carter at last year’s World Cup to see how crucial it is.
Carter’s Rugby Championship and Super Rugby form was so-so in 2015, but he strung together a run of form that saw him take out World Rugby Player of the Year.
“You want an example of what confidence can do? Think about Dan Carter last year,” he said.
“Everyone wrote him off and said he shouldn't be in the team and he came semi-good in the quarter-final and then just took off because that confidence got better and better and better and by the end of the tournament he was the best player in the tournament.
“So, that's what self-belief and inner confidence can do for you, for a really quality player, and Julian’s a quality player.”
Savea cut a relaxed figure on Thursday at New Zealand’s team announcement, a far cry from a player that Hansen said had been caught ‘trying too hard’ in a bid to regain his lost form.
Hansen has been adamant that Savea’s effort has never lacked and after his performance in Sydney, he expects only more of the best from his erratic winger.
“His problem is not that he's not trying hard enough, so you don't have to take him down that road,” he said.
“You've just got to make sure he's excited, he's energised by it and he believes in himself.
“He had a good run in Auckland, against counties when we played so he played the whole 80 minutes. Came on and played 40 minutes last week and had some success - his defence was outstanding, scored a great try that not many people would've been able to finish off.
“Those things give him internal confidence and that's all he needs.
“If he can get away to a good start again on the weekend, I'm sure we'll see it again and he'll just blossom and blossom.
Despite what has been a seesawing season for Savea, he still rates 2011, a year where he struggled at provincial level after a breakout U20s season, as his most challenging.
With another chance to make a Test impact, he said his only thought was having fun.
“It’s very hard sometimes,’ he said.
“Maybe not playing for a few weeks and then getting the opportunity, [you] actually try to hard to impress whoever.
“That's what I'm trying to get out of my mind and just enjoying footy and doing what I do and just doing my role.”