Ireland couldn't have picked a more difficult place in which to continue the quest for their first ever win against the All Blacks than Christchurch's new rugby stadium.
Just to make sure they appreciated the significance of the match at the new AMI Stadium, the first test in Christchurch for two years, the All Blacks took a bus tour through the city's red zone on the way to this afternoon's captain's run. Like the Irish on Wednesday, the All Blacks stopped in front of the devastated landmark Christ Church Cathedral.
For many, including captain Richie McCaw, it was the first time they had seen the extent of the damage in the wrecked city centre, caused by 21 months of earthquakes.
The training run at the new stadium having been completed in freezing temperatures, McCaw spoke of the motivation running through the team at putting in a performance to be proud of. Another victory will seal the three-test series and continue the All Blacks' unbeaten record against Ireland, a run lasting 107 years.
"We went for a wee drive through town on the way here. I think the guys, even myself, haven't been through that area properly and you realise the significance of what's happened here and it's a wee reminder of that. That's probably enough," he said of the All Blacks' motivation.
"Putting on the All Blacks jersey should be enough to push some buttons but we've had a pretty good week's preparation and we're keen to take another step up. If it adds to it it will be great."
With seven Crusaders starting in the test tomorrow night, almost half the All Blacks team has very good memories of the stadium. Others, most notably those from the Blues and Highlanders, who have recently suffered 50-point losses there, will not.
But while the Crusaders are unbeaten in five matches at their new home, the All Blacks can also go some way to turning the place into a fortress.
"The boys are pretty excited about playing out here and obviously there's a bit of significance playing out here after not having a game here for a couple of years. It's nice to be back," McCaw said.
"The atmosphere we've received here with the Crusaders has been pretty cool so I'm sure it will be the same tomorrow."
The All Blacks have a settled look about them; Adam Thomson's inclusion at blindside flanker for the injured Victor Vito the only change and that was forced.
Ireland, on the other hand, have made four changes, but two are likely to improve them. Tighthead prop Mike Ross's recovery from a hamstring injury is the most significant, and Gordon D'Arcy's selection at second-five alongside Brian O'Driscoll is likely to strengthen the midfield. It will be the 48th time the pair have played alongside each other in tests.
Ireland's other changes include the selection of Kevin McLaughlin as blindside flanker - he joins Leinster loose forward teammates Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip - and Andrew Trimble on the left wing.
"We were pretty happy I guess for a lot of it but if you think you've got it sorted you'll come unstuck," McCaw said of the first test at Eden Park, a 42-10 victory.
"There's no doubt the Irish will be better for that run and hopefully we will as well."
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick