Ryan Crotty spoke of his relief at finally making the cut for a Rugby World Cup squad, named as part of Steve Hansen's 31-man squad to travel to Japan later this month.
After missing out in 2015 thanks to the irresistible form of the likes of Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Sonny Bill Williams, Crotty was last week named to play in his first-ever Rugby World Cup, and will likely be a key figure in Steve Hansen's plans.
Having missed the end of the Super Rugby season, and the entire Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup campaigns, Crotty will be heading into the World Cup lacking in match sharpness, although will start in the number 12 jersey in this weekend's Test against Tonga in Hamilton.
Speaking to media today, Crotty opened up about his thoughts during the All Blacks' squad selection process.
"[I'm] always nervous," Crotty began.
"I know what its like to get the phone call to say that you're not coming, so you're always nervous. I was grateful to get the call. I was really grateful."
Crotty turned down large overseas offers to remain in the black jersey following the 2015 World Cup, a decision that has now paid off for the ever-dependable midfield maestro.
"It justifies a lot of decisions you made to lead to this point," he said.
"But getting named is only half of it. It's about putting in for that, and really being excited for this challenge."
Crotty will play this weekend's Test against Tonga, before the All Blacks begin their Rugby World Cup clash against South Africa in Yokohama on September 21.