Krystal Rota is one of the experienced players in the Kiwi Ferns squad who have been recalled to the team for their clash against Fetu Samoa this weekend.
The 34-year-old was a surprise omission from the Kiwi Ferns team which narrowly lost to Australia last year but is happy to be back in the team.
"It was a bit of a stab to the heart last year but it's good to be back with the girls. It feels like I never left to be honest. It's great to be back again to feel the fire again, to make my way back into the squad again," she says.
The match against Fetu Samoa is the first of a double header at Mt Smart Stadium this weekend which will also feature the men's Kiwis playing Mate Ma'a Tonga.
With a big crowd expected, Rota's experience is invaluable- particularly for the younger players in the squad.
"I clearly remember my first test match so I guess just as a senior player and along with the other senior girls it's just trying to bring the girls down and just remind them that it's another game, although this is the highest accolade you can play- to know that the support is there for us, we're on our home soil and just to give it their all," says Rota, who made her international in 2008.
Although she was a finalist for Women's NRL Dally M award last season, Rota was a surprise omission from the Kiwi Ferns squad that narrowly lost to Australia 26-24 in last year's triple header at Mt Smart.
She used that as motivation to one day get back into the squad.
"I thought to myself that there's not much I can do about it, I just have to work harder to make my way back in to the team. That's what I tried to do and I'm here again, so I'm rapt to be back here."
Kiwi Ferns coach Justin Morgan is impressed with Rota's return to Kiwi Fern camp in Auckland this week.
"She's been a real leader with some of the new faces as well. A lot of the new faces were unsure what to expect coming into an international team and she's helped that transition," he says.
The game between the Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa begins at 3.10pm on Saturday afternoon at Mt Smart Stadium.