Excitement seems to be the in-word for the All Blacks as they build towards Sunday's historic first test against the USA Eagles in Chicago.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen used the word, or variations of it, several times, in his final press call before boarding the plane.
"The northern tours the last couple of years ... we've not seen the same sort of excitement we've seen today. All bodes well," said Hansen.
This does seem promising news given the All Blacks played some tired rugby on their 2013 northern tour, failing to capture the at times ethereal heights of their Rugby Championship brand of play.
Even the 54-6 victory over Japan in Tokyo lacked the requisite cohesion. In 2012, though they had strong wins over Scotland and Wales, they faltered with the infamous 38-21 reverse to England at Twickenham.
Hansen would love to see more of the quality rugby the All Blacks played on the 2005 and '08 Grand Slam tours and 2006 and '09 in Europe.
Part of that excitement derives from visiting a new frontier. Chicago is a place many All Blacks would never have visited and playing to a packed house in a new land is a compelling carrot. The rugby comes first, of course.
"That's a given that we've got to focus on the rugby, that's the reason we're going there. It's exciting to be able to take the game of rugby to America and there will be a lot made of the All Blacks going there. It's important that we play well and we know you play well if you prepare well, so whoever's selected has to get that part of it right and be supported by the guys that aren't selected," said Hansen.
"There will be a lot of distractions as it's a new place, an exciting place. But the message we want to leave Chicago with is that the All Blacks are a pretty special outfit who play good rugby and you don't get many opportunities to go to the States and put your brand on their back door."
And hitting Chicago is not just for fans of the Shameless TV series.
"I even know myself I'm excited to be going. Chicago's a major city in the States but it's a sporting city and there's a lot of tradition in the stadium we're playing at. Everyone's aware of that. It is exciting to go to new places and so it's a great way to start this tour off for us. It gets the energy levels right up and everyone's into it."
Once again Hansen had to bat away questions about who he is going to select, but it seems certain that Aaron Cruden will line up at No 10. He has played just 20 minutes for Manawatu since his last All Blacks outing on September 13 and is very underdone, like several of the tourists, some of whom are still carrying injuries. Hansen was straight to the point when asked what he wanted to see out of Cruden.
"More of what we've seen in the past. We want him to be able to dominate and control the game. Your 10 is the main driver, the main computer really, and if he's doing that well then he'll play well.
"We've got to be smart about selections, for a start. We've got four games to play, and it's the end of the year. The thing that's exciting me - we are using the word 'excited' a lot - is the fact that they are excited, about getting on the plane. With a group like this, we've got plenty of talent and if we get the training weeks right, we could see something special," declared Hansen.
5 Northern Tour openers
2008: All Blacks 19 Wallabies 14, Hong Kong
The two transtasman rivals took the fourth and final Bledisloe Cup clash to the former British colony and instead of a putting on a great advertisement for rugby, they two sides produced a dour affair. The All Blacks snuck home with two second half tries in an error-ridden encounter.
2009: All Blacks 32 Wallabies 19, Tokyo
The first time taking a Bledisloe Cup test to Japan Dan Carter and Matt Giteau thrilled the fans with 11 penalty attempts between them. Sitiveni Sivivatu and Conrad Smith both crossed over as the All Blacks completed a comfortable.
2010: All Blacks 24 Australia 26, Hong Kong
Such a memorable test that a TV-movie was made about it. Stephen Donald missed touch and the Wallabies went straight back down to field to tie the game up before try-scorer James O'Connor kicked the match-winning conversion from the sideline.
2012: All Blacks 51 Scotland 22, Edinburgh
It was vintage Dan Carter as the first-five was flawless in Steve Hansen's first ever Northern Tour match in charge of the All Blacks. Ben Smith and Tamati Ellison made up the centres Ellison's last test for the All Blacks.>p<
2013: All Blacks 54 Japan 6, Tokyo
A rusty performance to begin the tour. Despite scoring eight tries, barely cracking 50-points against Japan is below expectations for the men in black. Ben Smith had a new centre partner in Francis Saili..... Saili's last test for the All Blacks.