Ofa Tuungafasi was still troubled by a neck injury suffered in the third Test against Ireland and had to pull out of the squad to travel to South Africa on Friday.
Newell said he missed All Blacks' manager Darren Shand's phone call, but when Shand sent a text, he said he answered quicker than he had ever responded to a text before.
"It was pretty surreal when he gave me the news. It's just an awesome moment and I can't really put any words together," he said.
Family phone calls followed as he spread the news, and there had been a family dinner on Tuesday.
His first call was to his father. He was lost for words. Newell thought he misheard him for a start.
"He was stoked for me, he told he was really proud. It was a really special moment between me and him," he said.
"It is quite daunting but I can't wait to get in there and learn from everyone. There's some really quality players in New Zealand and it's going to be a great opportunity to learn," he said.
Joining up with Crusaders forwards coach Jason Ryan as he settles in to his coaching role with the All Blacks would continue Newell's relationship with him.
"He's been a massive contributor to my growth," he said.
Newell, a product of Rangiora High School, studies land and property management at Lincoln University.
He played one season for Canterbury before gaining a Crusaders contract which had boosted his advance in the game.
"There's been so many quality players, and so many leaders that I've learnt so much from. I'm truly grateful to be a part of those teams," he said.