Julian Savea says it is up to him to engineer a return to the All Blacks squad, after watching the opening two Bledisloe Tests from afar.
The hulking winger was left out of New Zealand’s Rugby Championship squad earlier this month, one of the shocks in the lineup, with Savea a long-time favourite of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
Speaking ahead of the Brisbane Global Tens launch, Savea said he had lost his enjoyment for rugby in recent times, but was starting to rediscover that playing for the Wellington Lions in the Mitre 10 Cup.
“(I’m) just bringing enjoyment back into rugby and what drives me and stuff…where my mental state is,” he said.
“I'm excited for the challenge wherever I'm at, no matter what I'm part of, to just play well and work really hard. I know that no one's going to be able to do it but myself.
“I've got to look myself in the mirror and ask the hard questions and where I want to head to next.
“Now, I think it's (the enjoyment is) slowly coming back. “Mitre 10 Cup brings you back and you appreciate the little things and I'm loving it at the moment now, and the Lions have given me the opportunity so I appreciate that.”
Savea said he hadn’t heard about the possibility of a call-up for the nest block of Tests, despite incumbent winger Ben Smith set to take a sabbatical.
Even with Smith gone, Savea would have to compete with Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo and Israel Dagg for a shot on the edge.
He said he wasn’t losing sleep over that possible call.
“I haven't been spoken to about that at all,” he said.
“Who knows? If I am, I am, but I've still got to look at myself and whatever problem there is, I've just got to own it and take it on the chin and work hard.
“Obviously that's still the ultimate goal.
“I know the players that are there are doing the job well, extremely well, so I know it's not going to be easy as for anyone to get in the team, as a newcomer or heading back into the team.
“You do miss the environment and the motivation grows even more so I'm excited and I can't wait to express myself.”
Though there has been speculation Savea might be moving clubs in 2018, the winger confirmed on Tuesday he would stay at the Hurricanes.