One of the biggest things prop Wyatt Crockett will take on the plane with him when the All Blacks depart for the Rugby World Cup won’t be in his luggage.
It’s the support the team have received from around the country and which has made such an impression on him.
Crockett and the rest of the 31-strong squad fly out of Auckland on Thursday night bound for London and the defence of the Webb Ellis Cup.
The All Blacks have won two of the seven previous tournaments and both, in 1987 and 2011, were as hosts.
So if there is to be a third title over the coming weeks, they have to achieve it for the first time on foreign soil.
While their fans won’t be as numerous on the ground in Britain, Crockett says the players know what the level of enthusiasm will be like back in New Zealand.
“The last few weeks, just going around the country, all our visits, seeing people in the streets, it’s been amazing how much support we’ve got,” he said.
“Everyone is really in behind us.”
Crockett drew a parallel with the Black Caps earlier this year and their heady run to the Cricket World Cup final.
“Having seen during the Cricket World Cup how the country got right behind the team, we’re definitely feeling that support,” he said.
“As a New Zealander, that’s pretty exciting.”
The upcoming tournament has been at the back of Crockett’s mind since 2011.
The 32-year-old loosehead missed out on selection four years ago, with Tony Woodcock, Owen and Ben Franks, and John Afoa getting the four propping berths.
He bounced back from that disappointment to consolidate a spot in the All Blacks, and 34 of his 40 caps have come in the intervening period.
This time around, with the propping contingent increased to five, he will join Woodcock, the Franks brothers and fellow World Cup debutant Charlie Faumuina on the plane.
With the tournament, and the All Blacks’ opening pool match against Argentina at Wembley on September 21 (NZT), getting ever closer, anticipation is growing.
“The last few weeks have gone quite slowly, knowing what’s around the corner,” Crockett said.
“You just want to get over there now and get amongst it.”