Hoskins Sotutu has been one of the shining lights in Super Rugby this year, with his compelling form pre and now post the lockdown becoming a big part of the Blues' revival.
And it's those dominant performances that have propelled him into the conversation for a black No.8 jersey.
The 21-year-old admits he still has plenty to learn and having had a taste of Super Rugby last year, the bruising back-rower is now relishing his regular starting role.
Since then, Sotutu has only gone from strength to strength.
At the start of the year, coach Leon MacDonald took a punt, when he replaced the inconsistent Akira Ioane in favour of Sotutu.
"He's a gifted player," says MacDonald. "He steals ball on the ground, he rips it out of people's hands. He can offload, great in the lineout."
With a vacancy in the All Blacks loose forwards, Sotutu senses an opportunity to fill the void left by Kieran Read.
His rapid rise has been hard to miss and talk of a potential All Blacks call up has been unavoidable.
"It's in the back of my mind," Sotutu admits.
"I guess it's a bit tough at the moment, especially with my family. They're quite proud of me and they're always sending me articles back from Fiji."
This year has also seen a return to form for Rieko Ioane, who's thriving in the Blues midfield.
After losing his All Blacks starting spot last year, Ioane feels he's turned a corner.
"I came into this year with a fresh new mindset," says Ioane. "I wanted to be better than i was last year
"It's been a huge learning for me at centre and i'm enjoying my time there."
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