Waerea-Hargreaves has a point to prove
In 19 Tests for his country Jared Waerea-Hargreaves knows he's yet to play his best for the Kiwis, and is desperate to do something about it at the Rugby League World Cup.
While his impact at NRL Telstra Premiership level for the Sydney Roosters in recent years can't be doubted, since making his debut for the Kiwis in 2009 the powerful front-rower feels he's performed below his own standards more often than not.
It has resulted in the 28-year-old being overlooked for Kiwis selection on a number of occasions, including a two-year absence from the national team between 2014 and the end of 2016, with Waerea-Hargreaves eager to finally put the issue to bed.
"Personally, I don't think I have played my best for the Kiwis, and hence why I am excited and looking forward to the challenge," Waerea-Hargreaves told NRL.com ahead of Saturday night's clash against Scotland in Christchurch.
"Obviously I have heard and seen what people have commented about me. Absolutely [it motivates me], I'm a very proud person and I want to do well for myself, for my country, so bring it on.
"I'm super excited to be given another opportunity and to make the most of it."
After initially missing out on selection in the Kiwis' 17 for their tournament opener against Samoa, Waerea-Hargreaves was called into the squad as an injury replacement for Kenny Bromwich, starting at prop and playing 44 minutes in the 38-8 victory.
After carrying the ball 19 times for 172 metres, along with making 22 tackles, he has retained his starting spot in coach David Kidwell's new-look side to face Scotland.
Waerea-Hargreaves said an honest chat with Kidwell prior to the World Cup squad being named had given him assurances that the game plan would allow him to play his natural role in the middle of the park.
"With 'Kiddy', we relate pretty easily… I was pretty straight up with Kiddy when he gave me the call, I just said 'tell me my role, make it clear, and let's go'," Waerea-Hargreaves said.
"I can't really pinpoint [what has happened in the past] to be honest, probably a bit of clarity, not knowing my role in the team."
The Kiwis will field seven players in Christchurch who weren't in the team that played Samoa last week, with Addin Fonua-Blake set to make his Test debut off the bench and Elijah Taylor in line to play his first match for New Zealand in four years.