New Zealand winger Rico Gear feels he has benefited from taking time time off after a busy international schedule.
Gear is set to become the first All Black in over a decade to play his NPC rugby below the Division One level this weekend when he steps out for Nelson Bays against Poverty Bay in his hometown of Gisborne.
Gear has been rested for Nelson's Division Two campaign so far at the behest of All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
Having moved to Nelson from North Harbour last year as part of his switch to Super 12 champions the Crusaders, the 27-year-old returns to action for the first time since being replaced by Doug Howlett for the Tri-Nations finale at Eden Park earlier this month.
But ahead of his first provincial game of the season, Gear is appreciative of the long break, especially given the slight knee injury he has been suffering from.
"I really felt quite jaded in that last Test I played in Dunedin (against South Africa on August 27)," he said.
"As much as my mind was going 100 miles an hour and getting amongst it, my body was struggling a little bit and then I picked up a little injury.
"The week after I got back to Christchurch from the campaign, I was sleeping until lunchtime just about every day. I was just really tired, I felt like that for a whole week.
"But I slowly got better and ready to go."
The Gisborne-born flyer conceded there was public scepticism over allowing All Blacks time away from the park, but insisted it was an important part of their routine.
"The guys know their bodies and they're professional, so you've got to look after them," he said.
"I think the draining thing is, not so much the games, as much as the week after week of continual training and being in that team environment."