Zane Tetevano says his emergence in the Kiwi Test team has helped him move on from the disappointment of being forced to watch the Roosters' NRL grand final triumph from the stands.
After playing all but two games en route to the decider this season, Tetevano was dropped to 18th man by coach Trent Robinson, becoming the unlucky player who made way for Jake Friend's return.
But 28-year-old Tetevano said making his Test debut for the Kiwis last week – and being promoted to the starting side for Saturday's game against the Lions at Eden Park – meant he had little to complain about.
"Not playing that [grand final] but getting an opportunity in the Tests, I kind of just feel like 'you know what if I didn't play that game it's OK' and I'm ready to represent my country, do it well and showcase my craft," Tetevano said.
"Missing out on that grand final, I still felt I was part of it in some way, I played 24 games and I knew I put a lot of hard work into helping our team get to where we were.
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"We celebrated [with the Roosters] and then getting that phone call from Michael Maguire to continue on playing some football, I thought 'that's awesome I can play football again and I don't have to go back to training on November 1'."
Tetevano will start alongside long-time Roosters teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the front row against the Lions, as New Zealand look to bounce back from a 26-4 drubbing at the hands of Australia last Friday.
After running for 74 metres and making 26 tackles off the bench last week, Tetevano said he was relishing the idea of starting a Test alongside Waerea-Hargreaves.
"Jared's been my kind of idol growing up," Tetevano said.
"I like the way he plays, the aggression and the football style he plays, you can get a lot of energy from that.
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"It definitely helps my game because I know if I'm there next to him I am OK.
"I'll try to sneak over Jared [for the first carry of the game], I try to do that as often as I can.
"My first job is to run the ball as hard as I can and do my first tackle as hard as I can.
"I'm keen to do the haka first up and then have that emotion go through me."
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Tetevano replacing Leeson Ah Mau at prop is one of two changes to the starting pack for the Kiwis, with Raiders big man Joseph Tapine set to start at lock ahead of Adam Blair who will earn his 50th Test cap from the bench.
Injury restricted Tapine to 17 NRL games this season but Kiwis assistant coach Ben Gardiner hinted he is set to play big minutes on Saturday night.
"I think he will come into the side and give us a bit better conditioning in the middle of the field," Gardiner said.
"We get some more power and size in the middle and we also get a guy that has just come off a grand final performance.
"He played the 9s, he played in the grand final… I'd be expecting him to come out on Saturday and play confidently and perform really well."