Aaron Cruden feels the new-found confidence he has in his game means the team will not miss the presence of the injured Dan Carter as keenly as anticipated.
The 23-year-old will don Carter's number 10 jersey for the third and final Test match against Ireland on his home ground on Saturday. Cruden has enjoyed a stellar Super Rugby season with the league-leading Chiefs and will be cheered on by a partisan crowd at Waikato Stadium.
He feels his performances at last year's World Cup have led to an all-round improvement to his game. He said: "Last year I felt that I was playing some decent footie, then obviously I missed out on the initial World Cup squad."
He added: "The coaches told me to keep with it because if there were injuries I might get a call in and, fortunately for me, I was able to come in and gain a lot of confidence by the end.
"It gave me that push that I needed and I was able to continue that form this season.
"I've been happy with how things are going but I know that I can be a lot better as well."
With a lot of new faces in this season's Chiefs team, such as Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane, Cruden has emerged as a fresh-faced leader.
"We set some really high standards for ourselves this season and we probably have shocked a few people," he said.
"We always knew, as a group, that we had the potential. We just had to put it out on the field."