Australia had managed to keep their low-key Rugby World Cup build-up going right through the first weekend of the tournament – before it hit them like a big yellow bus on Tuesday morning.
Their own big yellow bus to be precise.
The Wallabies have been kept away from the spotlight while training and acclimatising to English conditions at their base in Bath – a picturesque university town which was home to authors Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, as well as countless other notable British identities.
The calm surrounds had shielded the Australians from the World Cup chaos pervading the rest of the UK.
But it was an illusion which versatile outside back Matt Toomua admitted was shattered the second they boarded their Wallabies-branded bus for a 90-minute drive to Cardiff, ahead of their opening clash with Fiji at Millennium Stadium on Wednesday (0145 Thursday AEST).
“The bus trip to the training session felt almost game-day like,” he said.
“There were people waving and stuff like that. I guess it is easier (to spot us) when you have a bright yellow bus, driving through Cardiff.”
Keeping the energy levels up for the duration of the gruelling six-week tournament can be a task in itself and Toomua saw the value in keeping the team in its own little Bath bubble while other nations got their tournament underway.
It also gave players the opportunity to watch the opening fixtures, including Japan’s stunning upset of South Africa and New Zealand’s hard-fought victory over Argentina, which pointedly reminded them not to go lightly in any game.
“The edge will be there,” said Toomua, who insisted the team hadn’t been too secluded in Bath.
“Training has been very competitive. We have still been doing a lot of work – it’s not like we have just been chilling.
“The pressure and that stuff will come as we get into the tournament, so to distance yourself from it early is probably a good thing.
“It has been good to be removed from it because we know the hype will come.
“The guys are really raring to go now.”
Toomua will come off the bench against Fiji, and his ability to fill in at five-eighth and in the centres should ensure he sees some gametime against the unpredictable island nation.
He intends to make an impact when he comes on as part of “the finishers” who the Wallabies look at to close out games.
“The last 15 to 25 minutes are really your championship minutes, and a lot of the bench is usually on then,” he said.
Australia: Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio.
Res: James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale.
Fiji: Metuisela Talebula, Waisea Nayacalevu, Vereniki Goneva, Gabiriele Lovobalavu, Nemani Nadolo, Ben Volavola, Nikola Matawalu, Netani Talei, Akapusi Qera (capt), Peceli Yato, Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Manasa Saulo, Tuapati Talemaitoga, Campese Ma’afu.
Res: Viliame Veikoso, Peni Ravai, Isei Colati, Nemia Soqeta, Malakai Ravulo, Nemia Kenatale, Joshua Matavesi, Aseli Tikoirotuma.