Sam Whitelock has revealed his disappointment at missing out on the All Blacks captaincy, although a spell on his drought-hit farm has helped put things in perspective.
Veteran second-rower Whitelock has come to terms with new head coach Ian Foster's decision to appoint Sam Cane skipper of the three-time world champions.
Whitelock had been favoured to succeed the retired Kieran Read, having never lost in his six Tests as a stand-in captain.
The 31-year has also lifted the Super Rugby silverware in each of the last three seasons after inheriting the captain's armband from Read at the Crusaders.
"I would have liked to have that (All Blacks) opportunity. I've had a bit of a taste of it in previous years and I would have liked to have a go," Whitelock said on Friday.
"The thing is, I can still have a big impact, whether I'm captain or not.
"I know so much goes into it and you don't need the captaincy armband to make a difference."
Whitelock was on club duty in Japan when Foster broke the news but returned to New Zealand following the COVID-19 outbreak and will line up for the Crusaders in the domestic Kiwi Super Rugby competition starting next month.
The 117-Test veteran's focus has been away from rugby during the lockdown period, having joined family on the 830-hectare sheep and cattle farm he owns in the Hawke's Bay region.
Conditions in parts of the North Island are the driest they've been for a generation and have been exacerbated by the pandemic restrictions, causing distress for many farmers.
It was difficult to leave hungry animals behind to join his teammates in Christchurch, Whitelock said.
"I knew I had to come back here and play. The reality is, we couldn't do much up at the farm, we just need it to rain."