New All Blacks flanker Elliot Dixon believes consistent game-time in the Highlanders back row has been key to his rise into the national squad.
A standout performer from the Highlanders' 2015 title triumph, Dixon was called up ahead of the series against Wales and will win his first Test cap in the third match of the series in Dunedin.
Running out in familiar surroundings at the Forsyth Barr Stadium will only add to what is set to be a special day for Dixon. The 26-year-old's initial hope to just play regularly in the Highlanders' back row has certainly paid off.
"This year it was a real big goal for me to play rugby consistently, week in, week out and see where it got me," Dixon told reporters on Thursday.
Dixon watched on as New Zealand advanced to an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series over Wales but he believes the experience of just being in and around the squad over the last few weeks before making his debut has actually been a boost.
Soaking up the experience of Jerome Kaino and Sam Cane has all meant that Dixon feels very prepared to make the step up.
"Learning all the new information, and the new game plans – that's put me in really good stead for this week. I think I would have been overcooked if I went into the first week (and played)," he explained.
"We have little meetings throughout the week, we touch on what we need to learn and what we all want to get out of it as a group.
"It's been good to have all those guys around mentoring me and helping me."