All Blacks utility forward Vaea Fifita is out to show that he's worth a spot in Steve Hansen's 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup, according to Wellington Lions coach Chris Gibbes.
Returning to provincial rugby with young hooker Asafo Aumua, 27-year old Fifita will line up for Wellington against Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup, his last chance to showcase his skills before the All Blacks' World Cup squad naming next Wednesday.
Speaking after Wellington training today though, coach Gibbes welcomed back Fifita, backing him to show what he's made of before the World Cup.
"He's got a lot to play for," Gibbes told media.
"He's coming back full of energy and excitement, he knows as well as the whole country that there's a lot to play for.
"At the end of the day, credit to Vaea. He's just come back straight in and got around his roles for us, he's excited about playing back in the jersey against Canterbury on Friday.
"I'm excited to see what he can do out there."
Gibbes also says that there have been no instruction from the All Blacks selectors about where or how to play Fifita, capable of covering both lock and loose forward.
"It's just a matter of coming back, playing and getting minutes.
"Those players will know that there's a bigger plan in place for all of them, and again they'll know what they need to work on."
With the World Cup squad selection deadline looming, Gibbes admitted that he has no idea where Fifita stands in the current All Blacks' pecking order, unaware if he'll be available again at any point this season.
"You'll have to ask Shag [Hansen], it's not my call.
"It's way too early to know, he's just got to keep playing. The All Blacks have got plans in place for him, our part of it is to give Vaea game time and get him ready to go."
Fifita will be up against fellow All Black Braydon Ennor on Friday night, two of nine players released to their provinces this weekend.
Wellington face Canterbury on Friday night at Westpac Stadium, both sides winless from their two opening matches of the new Mitre 10 Cup season.