David Havili says being able to run out onto the field in the All Blacks jersey has made a number of difficult seasons "all worthwhile".
The Crusaders midfield back made his return to the national side for the first time in four years last night, making an immediate impact with two first-half tries before later being yellow carded.
Havili admitted he was "still buzzing" this morning, having finally made it back into the side after a series of injuries and misfortunes in the last three seasons.
"It was pretty tough at the time but I had a pretty good support staff around me - my mum, my partner Lucy, a couple of flatmates George and Evie - it was tough at the time but running out last night definitely made it all worthwhile," Havili said.
"Still buzzing a bit to be back in the jersey but extremely excited for what's to come."
The 26-year-old admitted he had tossed up the idea of heading overseas when an All Blacks recall continued to elude him, but said he didn't want to retire with any regrets or "what ifs".
"It was about me weighing up what was important. I thought I still had a lot of time left in New Zealand rugby and chasing that black jersey was a massive goal of mine," Havili said.
A pair of tries on his return will likely go a long way in making him a more permanent fixture in the black jersey, and Havili said there was "plenty to build on for next week".
"I'm pretty excited still and it's pretty cool to be back in the jersey."