Vatuvei cherishing every Test
Every time Manu Vatuvei puts on a Kiwis jersey these days it's the memory of not getting one which drives him to succeed.
After he stormed his way to a double in Sunday's 26-12 win over Australia, it's hard to believe that only seven months ago he wasn't considered the first-choice left winger in the New Zealand team.
Left out of the opening game of the 2014 Four Nations in favour of Gerard Beale, Vatuvei said the experience had put things back into perspective when it comes to donning the Kiwi jersey.
"It was really emotional for myself when I got the phone call [to tell me I'd been selected this time], I am always worried every time," Vatuvei said.
"With all the young talent coming through the team I can't let my foot off the pedal, I have to keep going forward and keep going hard.
"No one is safe in the team, there's a lot of talent out there and I know there's a lot of guys pushing to get a black and white jersey.
"It means a lot to us and to put it on and is an honour and a privilege.
"This year it was a goal for myself to make the Kiwis, especially the Anzac Test."
Named the inaugural winner of the Charles Savory medal for Man of the Match, Vatuvei scored two tries in a nine-minute period against Australia, and carried the ball 15 times for 150 metres.
The 29-year-old Warrior was typically humble post match, but spoke of his joy at being involved in the first Kiwi side to beat the Kangaroos three times in a row since the 1952/53 seasons.
"I am just lucky and blessed to have received that medal, I know all of the boys deserve it too and I just went out there and did what was expected of me from the boys and the team," Vatuvei said.
"It's always massive, it's been a while since we have won an Anzac Test, and to back it up three games in a row too is a massive achievement for ourselves.
"It gives us a lot of confidence but Australia is always a strong team and we just have to play to our strengths and stick to it.
"I see the start of the new era, I think I am one of the oldest now so all the young boys are still developing and finding their feet in the game."
Meanwhile fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who will link up with Vatuvei at the Warriors next year, spoke of the influence the veteran winger has had on the otherwise youthful Kiwi backline.
"Manu is someone that everyone looks up to, if something is wrong then Manu knows the answer to it and he just calms everyone down," Tuivasa-Sheck said.
"He is a funny dude, you can always hear his laugh around the camp from a mile away.
"If there is an error or something doesn't go our way he is the person to step up and lead the boys.
"I just had to get early ball to him and he knows what to do with it, he scored a good two tries which was good for the team."