Rugby: Anton Lienert-Brown embraces challenge to win back All Blacks spot on northern tour

Anton Lienert-Brown won't give up his All Blacks spot without a fight - and doesn't intend to just make up the numbers on the upcoming northern tour.

After a six-month injury layoff, Lienert-Brown is playing again, recovered from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the end of Super Rugby Pacific for the Chiefs and the All Blacks' home season.

The the midfielder has been selected by coach Ian Foster to travel north, with tests against Japan, Scotland, Wales and England on the cards to end the year, but the current side is vastly different to the one he last played in, defeated 29-20 by Ireland at Dublin last November.

Anton Lienert-Brown and Will Jordan.
Anton Lienert-Brown and Will Jordan. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

In Lienert-Brown's absence, both David Havili and Jordie Barrett have staked their claims as Foster's first-choice in the No.12 jersey, while Rieko Ioane appears to have done the same at centre.

Rather than intimidated by the challenge of reclaiming his place, Lienert-Brown knows he'll have to earn it back in the northern hemisphere.

"I always believe, in the All Blacks environment, you're here to give it your all and be at your best," Lienert-Brown told Newshub.

"I don't want to be a passenger in this environment. I know I've got a lot of work to do, but I want to be doing all I can to put that black jersey on.

Anton Lienert-Brown for Waikato.
Anton Lienert-Brown for Waikato. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"It's been a long time on the couch, watching the boys through the Ireland series, and the [Rugby] Championship.

"There's plenty of motivation there, but at the same time, it's going to take action to force my way back in there. I'm just looking forward to getting stuck in and doing what I can."

Helping Lienert-Brown will be full confidence in his shoulder, after getting through 45 minutes without issue for Waikato in the NPC.

With spots up for grabs for the All Blacks' next test against Japan at Tokyo this month, in what's expected to be a weakened team, Lienert-Brown firms to return to the test arena sooner rather than later.

"I'm really happy with where it was at," he continued. "I guess the main thing was just mentally giving it the tick of approval.

"There was a few big collisions in there, which makes me confident it's back to 100 percent now. I'm good to go." 

Join us on October 29 for live updates of the All Blacks v Japan test