Kiwis utility forward Elijah Taylor's return to the Kiwi jumper has come sooner than expected, with his surprise selection at hooker against Scotland this weekend.
It was only a month ago Taylor wasn't even a consideration for David Kidwell's Squad, but now the 2017 Wests Tigers NRL Player of the Year has made such am an impression, the Ngāpuhi forward gets the nod ahead of Daniel Levi.
He was meant to be on holiday in Rarotonga, but a second chance call-up has him kitting up for the Kiwis.
“To get the initial sorry mate you're not in the team was frustrating. To get that call up again is very humbling, [and] I'm honoured to be back in the environment,” says Taylor who made his debut for the Kiwis in 2011.
A change in attitude and a change in the club has seen the Ngāpuhi lad starting for the national squad.
“A jersey these days is very hard, and that's how it should be. It should be hard to get into the Kiwis [as] it creates competition.”
After not being wanted by the Panthers, Taylor nearly quit the game for good. But he has found a new home with the Tigers this year.
“When Ivan Cleary got sacked form the Penrith Panthers that was probably a big momentum shift in my career.”
Scotland is nowhere near as talented as the Pacific Island teams, but they did manage to subdue Tonga in the second half.
“It's gonna be a very tough game. Every game we've got in our pool if you look at the teams on paper, there's gonna be tough football games, they're gonna be physical as well.”
There is plenty of competition from teammates who are hoping to be selected for Tonga next week. For Taylor, he's just happy to have the jersey back.