Sam Whitelock says missing out on the All Blacks captaincy doesn't mean he can't have an impact as a leader in the New Zealand side.
Tipped by many as the successor to Kieran Read, the veteran lock missed out on taking over as skipper to Chiefs flanker Sam Cane.
Back training with the Crusaders this week, Whitelock said he had been able to put the decision of new coach Ian Foster into perspective.
"I would have loved to have the opportunity but, at the same time, I know there's so much goes into it and you don't need the captaincy to help people out and make a difference.
"Sam is going to need all the help and support he can get, and definitely there's some upside.
"[I can be] worrying about myself playing well first and then obviously helping him out where I can, if he needs it."
Before they joined forces for the All Blacks, Whitelock and Cane would square off against each other.
Both will be part of Super Rugby Aotearoa, although Whitelock's involvement had only come as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 117-test veteran was set to miss the 2020 Super season after heading to Japan for a stint with the Panasonic club.
However, the pandemic forced Whitelock and his family home after just six months.
Having returned to training with the Crusaders this week, he said it hardly felt like he had left New Zealand at all.
"My first day back was Wednesday and Razor (Crusaders coach Scott Robertson) said to me 'does it feel like you've been away six months?'
"I said 'it feels like I've been away for a month, even though there's been so much going on'.
"It seems like we've packed a lot into the last six months but it's been pretty enjoyable and I'm just excited like everyone else. I want to get out there and play now."