Chiefs fly-half Aaron Cruden is close to returning to full fitness from the major knee injury that has sidelined him since April.
An ACL injury ruled Cruden out of the Rugby World Cup and has required extensive rehabilitation. But the end is in sight for his recovery.
"I'd probably say I'm 95 percent of the way there," Cruden told Stuff.
"Look, it's been long, it's been frustrating at times, but I guess you sort of can't do too much about it, you just have to take the good with the bad. And for me now I can see the finish line, it's getting pretty close, and I'm getting really excited about early next year and lacing the boots up again, finally."
Cruden was involved with New Zealand's second World Cup win back in 2011 but was forced to watch on as the All Blacks defended their crown in England earlier this year – understandably a tough experience.
"Some days you just wake up a little bit more flat and a little disappointed," he said.
"In and around the Rugby World Cup, some of those days frustration and different other emotions started to creep in here and there.
"But in saying that, determination also popped into it as well, to get back out on the field and perform well. And if I do that for the Chiefs next year then hopefully another black jersey might call later on in the season."
The 26-year-old also isn't getting ahead of himself when it comes to winning back the All Blacks number ten jersey, even with the departures overseas of Dan Carter and Colin Slade.
"For me, look, I understand that there's an opportunity there, but first and foremost I need to just get back out on the field and play well for the Chiefs. And that's something I'm really excited about and I think if I can do that, then hopefully the rest will take care of itself and I'll get back into the All Blacks side."