It is not the first year he envisioned as All Blacks head coach but Ian Foster is, nonetheless, enthused about the prospect of a three-month test season that could yet see the national team based entirely at home.
Confirmation on Friday that New Zealand Rugby is working with the Government to solely host the Rugby Championship sets the cautious blueprint for a Southern Hemisphere test season to run from October to mid-December.
Foster is due to name his first 35-man squad on August 30, following the North against South fixture at Eden Park.
After a camp in Auckland those players will return to their Mitre 10 Cup provinces for at least the first two rounds – and Foster revealed the All Blacks would then stage a warm-up fixture of some kind before facing Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup test, tentatively scheduled for October 10 in Wellington.
Who the All Blacks play in that warm-up match remains unclear. In previous years, provincial opposition have been used in games of three halves, but with the Mitre 10 Cup kicking off on September 11 that proposition this time around is problematic.
Other options include an internal hitout, or attempting to assemble a locally-based Pacific team for a one-off non-test match.
"We've got to see whether there's a chance to play something else, a warm-up, or whether we play a squad game," Foster said. "There's a few variables around that but we'll firm that up in the next few weeks."
Similar uncertainty shrouds the two Bledisloe Cup fixtures Australia remain keen to host. As the Covid-19 situation deteriorates in Victoria and New South Wales, New Zealand Rugby appears reluctant to travel to Australia for tests that will likely be played in front of crowds under 10,000. Playing in Australia also risks complicating the Rugby Championship timeframes.
"Is it worth us going to Australia? I really don't know what that looks like," Foster said. "It's hard to see them being in a situation to have full crowds and there's unlikely to be a trans-Tasman bubble at that point so we'd have to plan on quarantining ourselves when we come back. Is that really what we need to be doing? We've got to look at player welfare, where the countries are at and government policies."
While many hurdles remain before New Zealand's hosting of the Rugby Championship is signed off, plans for the test season are falling into place.
At a time when the All Blacks would usually be preparing to head north, fatigued and jetlagged at the end of their season, they will instead start the next four-year cycle under new management with a fresh batch of talent eager to impress.
"It's been a year out of the box hasn't it? Nothing has gone according to plan but to hear the news that this is a likely scenario it's pleasing to get a stake in the ground that we can work towards.
"There's a bittersweet component to it. It's sad that because of South Africa, Argentina and to a lesser extent Australia's situation we have to do this, but from our side it puts us in a position of huge responsibility to make sure we organise a great tournament for all four countries.
"Having it in our home base it's exciting because we know we'll be surrounded by our fans here but we also know the pressure that can put you under, having so many games at home.
"The fact there's the prospect of playing overpowers everything at the moment.
"Our strategy all along was to be flexible and take what we can get. We know the importance to the business of New Zealand Rugby and supporting all the different levels that the All Blacks play.
"Over time it's harder and harder to see a north-south movement in rugby this year. If we can pull this off it's a really good option for us. We're playing with countries we've been committed to for a long time – and the Rugby Championship we've deemed the toughest in the world when you look at world rankings in the past.
"The whole Government and quarantine and how we set up training bubbles is a big piece of work that there's no certainty on but we think it's achievable."
Once dates and quarantine details are worked through Foster's attention will soon turn to squad rotation plans as the prospect of a hectic end to the year like no other looms.
If the Rugby Championship adopts its traditional format, but in a shorter timeframe, the All Blacks could play eight tests, including four Bledisloe Cup matches, in a similar number of weeks.
That will take a huge physical toll on players emerging from the brutal Kiwi derby matches staged throughout Super Rugby Aotearoa.
"There's going to be some big challenges in terms of consecutive test matches if it all goes ahead so we're going to have to make sure we manage that three-month period pretty smartly.
"Everything is going to be a lot more condensed. If the other three teams come in and have to quarantine for a couple of weeks then there would be a desire from them to not have too many bye weeks between test matches because it's going to be a lot of time away for them.
"The other teams are going to have to bring bigger squads so there will be the challenge of player management, but that's a variable in a unique year that all four countries will have to deal with."