All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey believes the team is building nicely for the OFC Nations Cup at the end of the month.
The 29-year-old from the Wellington Phoenix, who joined the squad in Brisbane this week for the training camp and fixtures, has been impressed by the level of fitness and the attitude in the camp as they get ready for their first training game against club side the Western Pride tomorrow.
"The boys have been blown away by the scores that they have been getting [in the fitness tests]," said McGlinchey from Brisbane. "Everyone has turned up in top condition. Everybody knows how important this tournament is. No wants to have any excuses."
McGlinchey, who has played 33 games for New Zealand and scored three goals, feels Anthony Hudson's side is capable of a good performance in Papua New Guinea as they look to make amends for the result for years ago in Solomon Islands in the 2012 OFC Nations Cup.
"It is a younger squad than I have been in before, but I think everyone is as hungry as ever," he said. "We have got big Rory Fallon who is helping all of the young boys and everybody is settling in really well. I think everyone is raring to go now.
"This OFC Nations Cup is huge. We failed four years ago and it hindered our preparation to get to the World Cup. We know that it starts now. If we do well at this tournament then it gives us some good games leading into the World Cup so it is massive for us."
McGlinchey, who played a central role in getting New Zealand to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010, is looking forward to taking on Western Pride who he expects will have a point to prove.
"These games are very important," he said. "I am sure we will come up against some good opposition and they will be wanting to beat us. We want to be competitive. We want to win the game, but it is more about implementing the style that Anthony wants than the result to be honest."
McGlinchey hasn't talked tactics or his role within the team with Hudson just yet. So far, the total focus has been on fitness and getting conditioned in the 28 degree heat and 90 percent humidity.
He said the Phoenix - who missed the playoffs in the Hyundai A-League - didn't deliver the season that everyone wanted down in Wellington, but they have recruited well and will look to bounce back next season. Getting into the camp with the All Whites is a welcomed new start.
"If we do well in this tournament it will turn a bad season into a decent one."
McGlinchey, who made his debut for New Zealand in 2009, has been a stalwart for the All Whites in recent years. He feels like this side can go a long way as Hudson has selected a well-balanced squad.
"There is a lot of youth but there is some experience in there as well. We will go well but it is going to take a lot of hard work. It has been awhile since we were all together in Oman, so it has been six or seven months, so it is good to get back with the boys. Playing for your country is always something different to playing for your club."
All Whites Training Games in Brisbane (local times)
Wednesday May 18 v Western Pride FC at Briggs Rd Sporting Complex at 6pm Open game (for media and fans)
Sunday May 22 v Redlands United at QSAC stadium at 6pm Closed game (for media and fans)
Tuesday May 24 v Brisbane City at QSAC at 6.45pm Closed game (for media and fans)
Oceania Nations Cup Fact Box
When: May 28 - June 11
Where: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
What: This will be the 10th edition of the OFC Nations Cup, the quadrennial international men's football championship organised by the Oceania Football Confederation. The winner of the OFC Nations Cup will qualify for the Confederations Cup in 2017
Defending champion: Tahiti (2012)