Fullback Israel Dagg is confident his lengthy spell on the sidelines won't be an issue if he's called up for the All Blacks' opening Test of the year against Samoa.
Dagg last played in April, a calf injury preventing him from getting back on the field for the Crusaders' past eight matches of the Super Rugby season.
He says he's feeling in good shape and the excitement levels are high from being back in the All Blacks environment.
"I've been training for the last couple of weeks doing a lot of that stuff that everyone doesn't see - lots of running, lots of gyming," he said on Sunday.
"I'm just really excited to get out there and to train, just to play, throw the ball around and have some fun with the boys."
The 27-year-old Dagg, who has 46 caps, is one of seven outside backs named in All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's first squad of the year.
The 41-strong selection will be reduced to 31 for the World Cup and the back three is an area where there is particularly strong competition.
With those players involved in the Highlanders' Super Rugby final victory over the Hurricanes being ruled out of the Test in Apia on Wednesday, it's a early chance for the others to press their claims.
"There a lot of competition all over the field," Dagg said.
"People want to play in that jersey. The boys that get the opportunity just have to get out there and nail it."