Despite being perhaps the unluckiest player to miss out on the All Blacks' 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup, Ngani Laumape insists his time playing for Manawatu in the Mitre 10 Cup has been beneficial.
With just four midfield spots up for grabs heading into the World Cup, Laumape was the fifth choice, stuck behind Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue.
An injury worry for Williams had fans on the edge of their seat for Laumape's arrival in Japan, however those reports proved to be false.
Laumape has since been plying his trade in provincial rugby, seeing the Turbos sit fourth in the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership, their promotion credentials realistically having slipped away for another year.
Speaking to Stuff though, Laumape says that he's grateful for the chance to return to Manawatu, by far one of the more exciting players among the Turbos' ranks in 2019, helping him move on from the pain of missing the World Cup.
"I have not really been focused on that [since] because when I got back for the Turbos I loved it," he said.
"I fell in love with the game again and seeing all the new talent here helped.
"I believe I'm one of the hardest workers in terms of players and people can judge me on the way I play."
Laumape has scored four tries in five matches for Manawatu this season, including starring in a memorable victory over Canterbury last month.