Manu Vatuvei has taken on a new ambassador role within the Mate Ma'a Tonga team and says he is proud that his former teammates treat him like a member of the squad.
The last time Vatuvei played for Tonga, who face off with the Kiwis at Mt Smart Stadium tomorrow night, was during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Vatuvei, 33, decided to give professional boxing a go after his rugby league career - which had seen him head to the English Super League after 13 years with the Warriors - was cut short in 2017 due to ongoing injuries.
Earlier this week the man nicknamed 'The Beast' told NRL.com that he had to give up his pursuit of boxing, after discovering he had a brain cyst.
"Yeah it has been real tough, it has been one of those things... not being able to play league again and finding another sport to play," Vatuvei told 1 NEWS.
"I'm the type of person who loves sports, getting into boxing was something that made me happy and made me do something well.
"Finding out that I can't do it again, it was hard, but I was lucky enough that I did something else that kind of replaced it and that was dancing."
The former Warriors winger took out MediaWorks' Dancing with the Stars NZ reality TV show competition last Sunday.
He believes his new found love of dancing helped him break down some mental barriers.
"All that masculinity stuff. I was one of those guys to be honest, I didn't want to show any fear or anything to anyone," said Vatuvei.
"And I would always look tough everywhere but behind closed doors I was a different man.
"I was real emotional, dancing has kind of done that for me, it made me express how I felt. Not through my words but through my actions."
Vatuvei played over 200 first grade NRL games for the New Zealand Warriors and has represented both Tonga and the Kiwis on the international stage.
"I'm the type of person that doesn't like to talk about problems and stuff, and dancing has kind of did that for me, express how I feel and I didn't know it would come out."
In the season finale of Dancing with the Stars NZ, Vatuvei didn't hold back in showing his emotions. During the live show on Sunday, after almost every dance routine you could see Vatuvei tear-up.
"People used to say that you are soft if you cry. But if you show your emotions it just means that you are a stronger man now and becoming a stronger person because you are showing your emotions.
"I just encourage everyone to don't be shy and don't be scared. There are a lot of people out there that are tough, but I know deep down inside them there is a soft side."