Sidelined All Blacks captain Kieran Read is predicting a World Cup payoff from the problems they suffered last season.
While 2017 wasn't a disaster, the drawn series with the British and Irish Lions, injuries and discipline issues including the red card for Sonny Bill Williams marked it as a year of only average returns.
The 32-year-old Read, recovering from back surgery, hopes 2017 will eventually be seen in a good light.
"I hope having that year will prove to be very beneficial," Read told the Telegraph.
"We used 54 players across the whole year, which is kind of unheard of for us.
"We blooded a lot of new guys into the group and had some tough battles.
"That galvanises you for what's ahead, some important games this year and then the Rugby World Cup.
"Hopefully by the end of next year I'll be able to answer how 2017 rated."
Read was careful not to foster any complacency over the end of year battle with England, whose attempts to usurp the All Blacks have become unstuck this year with a horrible Six Nations campaign.
"England have been right up there with us over the last couple of years," said Read.
"The last Six Nations they were not quite at their strong point but the squad is very similar. What we saw with the Lions and other northern hemisphere teams is that it's pretty tight at the top.
"I don't look at the results really. You look at the way teams are playing and the character they are showing. When it comes down to that week we'll look at them a bit closer, what they do well and don't do well. It will be built up, as it should be."
Meanwhile Read said the release of an Amazon fly-on-the-wall series about the All Blacks was a journey into uncharted waters.
"I guess generally we are pretty private, so this will put a bit of a human touch on our team and show who we are as people," Read said.
"It's slightly different for us Kiwis. We are a bit more laid back and just get on with the job. Amazon reaches so many places, so that's a cool thing."