The New Zealand Maori tour of England is a timely lifeline for Hikawera Elliot.
He's over the shock of being dropped from the All Blacks, replaced by Wellington's Dane Coles as the backup to veterans Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore.
But, at the age of 26, he's determined that his All Blacks career is far from over.
The next-best team for him is the Maori side. And to be in Britain with them while the All Blacks are in Europe represents a grand chance to keep his name and game in the spotlight.
Elliot has a senior role with the Maori side and is immersed in getting the team ready for the tour opener against the Leicester Tigers on Wednesday (NZ time).
He's revelling in his responsibilities.
"After the disappointment of missing out on the All Blacks I got the phone call from [coach] Jamie Joseph and that sad face turned into a smile," Elliot said.
"All I can do is have a really good tour with this team and put my hand up and say, ‘hey I'm still here, I'm still pushing'."
- Sunday Star Times
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