Rieko Ioane is heading into the new season wiser and still full of confidence after a tough 2019 season for both the Blues and All Blacks.
Ioane suffered his first serious career slump last year and the horrid timing led him to be replaced by rookies George Bridge and Sevu Reece as the All Blacks' first-choice wingers for the must-win Bledisloe Cup decider and at the Rugby World Cup.
As a result, the 22-year-old went from a projected regular starter in Japan at the beginning of 2019 to featuring in just three of the All Blacks' matches - against minnows Namibia and Canada in pool play and the bronze medal match against Wales after the team was eliminated.
Regardless, Ioane saw it as a positive experience.
"It was a huge learning for me through the whole of 2019, especially that World Cup," Ioane said.
"Not only was it the disappointment of that semifinal, but everything; learning to go from being a starter to not playing.
"I'm hugely excited for this year and looking forward to getting back to playing some good footy.
"It didn't dent [my confidence] too much. Obviously I was disappointed I wasn't playing but I think everyone would be. I knew the bigger picture was the World Cup itself. I just had to do my best to help the team.
"I had communication with [Ian Foster] the whole time. I was in a good head space."
Ioane will start for the Blues tomorrow night on the wing against the Chiefs despite talk of a shift to the midfield,
However, Ioane says he still sees his future in the 12 and 13 jerseys.
"Wing I find comes pretty naturally," Ioane said. "I trained there a bit when we first came in but over the last the weeks I've trained just at centre. I'm happy to switch in and out wherever the team needs me but I'm looking forward to playing centre this year.
"That's where I want to play."