Nehe Milner-Skudder's conceded it will be "bloody tough" to regain his spot in the All Blacks side after a turbulent few seasons which he's mostly spent sidelined with injury.
The 26-year-old backed up a quiet showing for the Maori All Blacks against the Lions 10 days ago, followed by a solid yet unspectacular performance in the Hurricanes draw with the touring side on Tuesday.
Just his fourth match back from injury, he says the chance to suit up against an outfit like the Lions has made him more determined than ever to get back to the top.
"I've had a bit of a tough run the last 16 months and the last few months have been good just getting back into footy and being around the lads and the training weeks have been awesome," Milner-Skudder said.
"To experience these tough encounters against the Lions, full of all these international caps, the best of the northern hemisphere, it does fuel that fire to keep working hard to get back into that Test team."
Milner Skudder's career has taken a slight downward trajectory since his ascension from Hurricanes no-name to Rugby World Cup winning All Black in 2015 with the Taihape-born product struggling to stay injury free.
His injuries have also coincided with the rapid emergence of stars Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett, who have essentially replaced Milner-Skudder in the All Blacks squad.
Instead of being daunted by the fairly hefty challenge of getting back into the national team given the talent on offer, Milner-Skudder says he's motivated by it.
"It is bloody tough, [but] that's the beauty of New Zealand rugby - we're blessed with so many talented quality players, especially in the outside backs as well," he says.
"I enjoyed watching that game on Saturday night and watching Rieko go well, Dagger's back to his best. That kind of just makes me a lot more motivated to keep working hard to try and compete with those boys.
While they're currently flailing, Milner-Skudder's chances of getting back into the All Blacks side aren't completely shot.
Ahead of the Rugby Championship starting in just under two months, he'll get a chance to impress All Blacks selectors in a Super Rugby finals campaign for the Hurricanes.
However, after the last two seasons he's had, he's only concentrating on performing in the black and yellow jersey.
"I think I just focus on doing the jersey proud like the other 22 guys and the rest of the boys that are in the squad," says Milner-Skudder.
"If I can put in a performance that they're proud of, everything else will take care of itself. If I'm doing it well, good things will come from it."