Following injuries to loose forwards Adam Thomson and Kieran Read, the All Blacks will look to Hurricanes No.8 Victor Vito to play a major role in the World Cup.
The 24-year-old produced a typically robust performance against the Wallabies last weekend, albeit as part of a losing cause, and has cemented himself ahead of Liam Messam in the pecking order.
"I was definitely asked to work on my physicality," Vito told Reuters when asked about his initial exclusion form the Tri-Nations squad.
Vito had been criticised in the past for not being tough and physical enough, which is a part of his game that the 'canes star has been working on.
"It was just making a mental switch and changing the way I play," he said.
"I've just taken some learnings from someone like Rodney So'oialo, who is the nicest guy off the field but get him on the field he's the most physical guy you will meet, and I'm just trying to emulate that."
Some impressive form for Wellington in the NPC was enough to catch coach Graham Henry's attention and forced his hand to pick Vito as the fifth loose forward in the World Cup squad.
"I'm quite nervous now with the realisation that the World Cup is about to begin," Vito said. "Never really thought I would be in this position and thankfully the chips fell my way and I'll put my hand up when required."
With Thomson and Read ruled out of most of the Pool round fixtures Vito will link up with Richie McCaw and Jerome Kaino as the loose trio, while lock Ali Williams will provide cover in the back row until either of the injured duo are ready to return to the field.
Vito is starting to believe that he is ready to make a real difference for the All Blacks.
"I feel like I'm starting to belong," Vito said.
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