Chiefs prop Nepo Laulala has returned to the team just 12 months after a potential career-ending knee injury with his goals firmly set on making the All Blacks squad for the Lions' Tour.
Laulala's rugby future was looking incredibly bright after the former Crusaders prop made his All Blacks debut in 2015 in the side's historic Test against Samoa in Apia at the age of 24.
He went on to play three more Tests along with signing a two-year deal with the Chiefs to make a bold statement in 2015 but his career took a horrific turn in January last year when he sustained a knee injury during team training.
"I snapped three ligaments out of four and I think I tore my quad muscle off the bone as well," the four Test All Black said.
"The surgeon had to take grafts from both my hamstrings."
But Laulala smiled as he described the injury, having made a miraculous recovery to be available for the Chiefs at the start of this year without even the need of a bandage on the fully-healed knee.
All Blacks tighthead prop Nepo Laulala packs down for a scrum during the Investec rugby Championship match between New Zealand v Argentina.
"My surgeon was pretty surprised at how quickly I was progressing because it was a pretty bad injury.
"But it's all good now."
Laulala wants to continue his accelerated comeback with his eyes firmly set on making a positive return to Super Rugby and rejoining the All Blacks in time for the Lions' Tour later this year.
His goals have already taken a promising step forward after he was invited to take part in the All Blacks' testings at the start of this year.
"I was pretty happy to still be considered," he said.
"I was in the zone of just improving myself and starting back at square one and I was pretty happy with that challenge but it was good to get that sort of consideration from them after taking a whole year off."
Laulala will head to the Brisbane Tens Global Tournament later this week where he will get his first test of match fitness on his knee, but the tighthead specialist isn't concerned.
"All you can ask for is your best and I'll just give it my all and hopefully that will take care of that.
"You've got to believe."