Test rugby stalwart Sam Whitelock has enjoyed a jam-packed 2017 campaign but was nevertheless a touch irked by his omission from the All Blacks' squad for last week's 39-22 win over Argentina.
All Blacks players Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock and Sam Cane.
The 28-year-old lock played 16 matches for the Crusaders this year, leading the Cantabrians to their first Super Rugby title in nine seasons.
He also played for the franchise in their loss to the British and Irish Lions, before pulling on the black jumper for three bruising Tests.
Since the Crusaders' title tilt, he's played in both Bledisloe Cup Test wins over Australia, but was rested for last Saturday's Pumas clash in New Plymouth.
Despite his huge 2017 workload, he was less than pleased.
"For me, I just love playing, so given the opportunity I'd love to be out there every week, really," the 90-Test Whitelock said.
"But it's bigger than that, the team is bigger than the individual.
"Sometimes you've got to tinker with your week to make sure you help out in any way, whether starting, off the bench or not involved."
Having been given the week off by the All Blacks' top brass, Whitelock is a near certainty to return to the fold for Saturday's clash with South Africa.
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner said the Springboks, in a rich vein of form this year, would provide a fierce challenge across the park.
They were likely to deploy the same defensive line speed that successfully blunted the All Blacks' attack against the Lions, Wallabies and Pumas.
"If they're bringing that line speed, we've got some things in place that'll help us, and if they're being passive, hopefully we can see that and read those cues early enough to exploit it," Whitelock said.
"Teams are smart enough now to keep changing the picture.
"From watching their first couple of games, they're playing typical South African rugby - big strong guys, carrying hard and using their skill."