As they gather for the first time in this disrupted year the All Blacks are welcoming the prospect of playing the opening Bledisloe Cup test in Wellington in-front of a full house.
Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern's announcement on Monday that all centres, other than Auckland, will move to Alert Level 1 from Tuesday paves the way for Wellington's Sky Stadium to host a sold out Bledisloe Cup test on Sunday, October 11.
Auckland moves to Alert Level 2, with restrictions on gatherings no more than 100 people, from Wednesday night. That will be reviewed again on October 5, with signs positive that the second Bledisloe test at Eden Park on October 18 will also be a sell-out.
Those two assignments against Dave Rennie's Wallabies are the only matches the All Blacks will play at home this season after the inbound July tests were cancelled and Australia secured the Rugby Championship hosting rights over New Zealand, largely due to their more flexible quarantine protocols.
Sam Cane has been forced to wait since February to lead the All Blacks out in the first match of his captaincy era. The chance to do so in-front of a sold out crowd only heightens that imminent occasion.
"We've always said we love playing in-front of packed houses but the last couple of weeks playing in-front of next to no-one with Bay of Plenty has really hit home how much atmosphere a good crowd adds to a game and how much energy you can feel as players," Cane said as the All Blacks gathered for their first three-day camp of the year in Whakatane.
"To be able to have a packed stadium down there would be amazing, we're really looking forward to it. We'll really put a focus on getting these first two tests right. If we can do that we should be able to retain the Bledisloe which is goal No 1."
Fresh off representing their respective provincial teams in the past two weeks, the All Blacks were welcomed onto Mataatua, Te Manuka Tutahi, Marae where they met survivors and family members from the Whakaari White Island eruption.
The All Blacks will hold an opening training session in Whakatane on Tuesday.
"We can't even begin to imagine what the survivors and the families who have lost loved ones have gone through," Cane said. "But if we can bring a little bit of joy to them today and by coming to training that's all we can do."
All Blacks coach Ian Foster said everyone was sickened by the eruption that killed 21 people last December.
"To hear stories about people having to go through a lot of hardship since it's been special to come along and have a chance for our guys to meet a few people," Foster said. "We can't solve any problems but we can show some support just by being here."
After a challenging year in which he has been forced to regularly change plans Foster welcomed the chance for crowds to return to rugby in the coming weeks.
"There's doubt about plans for the future but to know we've got a little bit of certainty with two Bledisloes and the fact we can hopefully get full crowds it's going to make it a little bit more than just a rugby game for this country."
All Blacks and Hurricanes halfback Perenara felt a responsibility to showcase the best of New Zealand rugby for those starved of attending games.
"Our ability to give back to people who support us throughout the year is the most important thing of people being able to come to games," Perenara said. "We have been given the luxury of being able to play rugby so we get to do what we love week in week out.
"The people who love the game and love supporting the game haven't been able to do that so for us it's an opportunity to give back and play a really good brand of footy that people want to come and watch. We owe it to the people who have been watching at home to go out and perform."