Black Sticks men's captain Blair Tarrant is normally a distant figure in the New Zealand hockey scene.
The veteran defender has spent the past five years playing in Europe, most recently with Germany's Hamburger Polo Club.
But challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic saw Tarrant make the decision to stay in New Zealand for the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics and although admitting it was a tough call, he believes it's ultimately beneficial to the Black Sticks' ultimate Olympic goal.
"It took me a few weeks to make that decision," Tarrant said from the North Harbour Hockey turf after an early morning training session. "But in terms of me doing quarantine and not being here training with the boys, I think it was the right decision for my body and for the team.
"There are massive advantages [playing in Europe] but right now I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.
"I'm actually really enjoying being here training week in, week out with the boys."
That training has been far from easy though.
Not only is the team being put through their paces on the pitch and in the gym, but they also rotate sessions inside AUT's environmental chamber.
The chamber can be set to replicate the heat, humidity and altitude of any environment - so with Tokyo, that means hot and sticky.
"It's no fun," Tarrant laughs. "We're in a chamber in 40 degrees heat and humidity on the bike for 30 minutes which is tough work.
"[But] the first thing is to get fit enough and we've done a lot of work around fitness and that makes the heat work easier."
It's Tarrant's second Olympics campaign, having represented New Zealand in Rio when the Black Sticks were denied a semifinal, losing 3-2 to Germany in the quarter-finals.
His spot in this year's team is still yet to be secured with the squad of 25 being cut down to 16 ahead of departure.
Part of the selection process will include next week's North vs South series in Hamilton - a new series in place of when the Black Sticks would have played Australia in the FIH Pro League.
Tarrant said with a lack of competitions amid the pandemic, it's exactly what they need.
"It's a massive opportunity for firstly guys to put their best foot forward to make the team and also to have some games, some competition with two really strong teams," he said.
"We can't hide from the fact that it is a selection event but it is also an exciting event where you get to play North versus South and get passionate about playing for where you're from.
"Training every week is good for your skills and is good for the team but having those real games to play, and that really competitive environment, that's what we like doing, we like competing against each other and we need that and so I think it's really positive."
Tarrant's main focus is to play his best throughout the tournament while keeping his body injury-free.
Following that, his attention will shift to how the team can best prepare for Tokyo with their first match against India and although noting there'll be things to tick off on the way, they only have one goal in mind.
"There's no point going to the Olympics if you're not going there to get a gold medal so that is definitely our main focus."