Aaron Cruden admitted he was taken aback after being handed the No.10 shirt for New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday.
The All Blacks, who will host the British & Irish Lions in 2017, kick off their autumn series against England and with Dan Carter and Beauden Barrett also in the touring party, competition is stiff at fly-half.
However, Cruden has been trusted by head coach Steve Hansen despite the 25-year-old’s recent exile from the squad after he missed a flight to Argentina during this year’s Rugby Championship.
And he was quick to pay tribute to his fellow squad members and the powers-that-be for easing his passage back into the All Blacks set-up.
“To be honest I wasn't expecting it,” Cruden told the Telegraph. “I was sitting there a little bit unsure of whether I was going to be named.
“To be named in the starting line-up is obviously a huge honour, especially to take on the English at Twickenham. It's going to be a massive battle.
“The boys have been great, the management have been great for me, but I was pretty nervous and apprehensive coming back in after what I did.
“I know I stuffed up and I will be working hard over these next couple of weeks – and I have been already – to earn the respect that I lost, not only to the people in this team but also the rugby fans back home in NZ and this weekend is the first opportunity to really do that.”