Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd admitted he was stunned by Julian Savea's physique when he returned ahead of the new season.
Savea, who was criticised for not being in shape ahead of 2016, was praised by Boyd for how he has looked after himself over Christmas.
"The first thing I said to him was 'Mate, you're a different person'," the 'Canes boss told NZ Newswire about how Savea looked last week.
"He's certainly physically very different than he was this time last year.
"I think in himself, he's much more chipper as well."
Savea has scored 45 tries in his 52 international matches and with a busy year of rugby that includes the British and Irish Lions tour, the Hurricane could well overtake Doug Howlett (49) as New Zealand's top try-scorer.
And Boyd believes they will see the best of their winger from the outset this Super Rugby campaign because of the shape he is currently in.
"I know that he wasn't happy with the way the season started or finished for us last year," he added.
"He just wants to play good code. Part of that is that he realises he needs to be in good physical nick to play good footy."