Messam wants mortgage on No.6

Getty Images     14 Sep 2012     Getty Images

Messam has had an on-off Test career and has struggled for several seasons to gain the full confidence of the coaches.

He was on the bench as recently as last Saturday against Argentina but another strong performance has given him the nod in the No.6 jersey ahead of Victor Vito for the Investec Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks in Dunedin on Saturday night.

Messam was co-captain of the Chiefs who won the Investec Super Rugby title and, along with his increased stature in the All Blacks, it has been close to a dream year.

"It has been a good year but I'll never get too comfortable," Messam insisted.

"That's when you start to lose your way. I want to have an edge about myself, when I train and when I play."

Messam said he never gave up the dream of becoming a front-line All Black in the seasons when he was in and out of squads.

"I never gave up. I took the setbacks on the chin and told myself to get better."

There is little chance of Messam suffering from complacency judging from the way he talks.

"I haven't been totally happy with my performances yet," he said. "I've still got a lot to learn and a lot to give to this team.

"I still feel like a bit of a rookie in the All Blacks, which is good because it keeps me on my toes and on edge."

Messam said his loose trio partnership with Kieran Read and Richie McCaw was developing well.

"We work hard at training and I'm getting more comfortable playing with them as a trio and trying to complement each other."

Messam believes the increased responsibility at the Chiefs this year has also helped his game.

"I think the way we played at the Chiefs this year helped me. I had to give more of myself. No one rated our pack at the start of the season and we had to prove them wrong."

Messam has played once previously at Forsyth Barr Stadium, for the Chiefs against the Highlanders, and relished the atmosphere.

But Saturday night shapes as a special occasion in his developing Test career.

"It doesn't get much bigger than starting a test against the Springboks in New Zealand and there will be an awesome atmosphere on Saturday."

The only downside is that his family will not be at the stadium to watch him.

"It's probably cheaper to fly to Australia," he quipped.