Jerome Kaino is using the enthusiasm of the new All Blacks loose forwards as motivation to take his game to another level.
The All Blacks back row has been bolstered by the addition of Highlanders loose forwards Elliot Dixon and Liam Squire, as well as Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea for the upcoming test series against Wales.
Kaino said that had forced incumbents Sam Cane, captain Kieran Read and himself to up their games, but he was making sure he mentored the new guys at the same time.
"I've just been trying to help them out with a lot of things that we do here and they've been great, they're always asking questions on what they need to do, how they can improve, it's been great.
"All we can do is just let them mould into the environment they do naturally and let them express themselves," said Kaino.
The 33-year-old said his game was getting to where it needed to be but he still had a bit to go to get to where he wanted to be.
Kaino had been plagued by a shoulder injury at the start of the Super Rugby season but believed that was past him now.
Starting the All Blacks camp a week early, Kaino hoped that the change in routine would shake off the usual "rust" the team had experienced in the opening match of previous international rugby seasons.
Instead of the usual three-day camps midway through the Super Rugby season the All Blacks normally took, this year they had taken an extra week before the opening test to prepare themselves for Wales.
Kaino said that extra week helped the All Black combinations gel.
"Hopefully we can nut those things out so when it comes to test match week everything just happens like clockwork but the first test you're always going to get a few mistakes and a few areas that you can improve on.
"This week's just all been about making that as smooth as possible when it gets into the test," said Kaino.
The opening test against Wales is next Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland.