The Kiwis are set to suffer another blow to their World Cup preparations, with assistant coach Garth Brennan tipped to take over at the Gold Coast Titans.
The New Zealand team assembled on Tuesday in Auckland, before travelling to Ngaruawahia where they stayed overnight at Turangawaewae Marae.
But Brennan wasn't part of the group, instead staying in Australia, as he awaits to hear the outcome of the Titans process.
Brennan took the Penrith Panthers to the New South Wales' Instrust Super Premiership title and an interstate challenge triumph over the PNG Hunters.
If Brennan gets the Gold Coast job - and the Herald understands he is the current favourite for the role, though Michael Maguire and Trent Barrett have also been in the mix - it would be another setback in what has been a challenging buildup for David Kidwell and his management team.
Kidwell lost his first choice assistant coach Steve MacNamara in June, when the former Warriors' assistant was snapped up by the Catalan Dragons.
His bid to get Stacey Jones on board was blocked by Stephen Kearney - who decided the former Kiwis halfback was needed at Mt Smart for the full pre-season - and they have lost a raft of players, including Tohu Harris and Kieran Foran to injury and the Tongan contingent led by Jason Taumalolo.
But the New Zealand Rugby League have a contingency plan, with David Kidwell identifying a preferred option to take over from Brennan if necessary.
The candidate had an assistant role at an NRL club last year and has previously been a head coach at NSW Cup level.
The Kiwis spent their first night at the marae on Tuesday night, in what would have been an eye-opening experience for the players, in more ways than one.
The team are all accommodated in one large room, on mattresses on the floor and some of the prime snoring culprits have already apparently been identified.
The team has training and community activities on Wednesday and Thursday, before travelling to Auckland on Friday to continue their preparations.