The ACT Brumbies have been working with a leading sports psychologist and one of Canberra's greatest club cricketers to unite the squad for its Super Rugby mission.
Jeff Bond, who worked with tennis champion Pat Cash, and Cade Brown were invited to speak to the players at a 10-day camp in Newcastle to help a new-look roster fast track the bond needed to win a title.
The Brumbies returned to Canberra on Wednesday after an unexpected getaway to avoid the capital's smoky air just weeks before the opening game of the season.
Being away from Canberra rammed home their desire to put rugby back on the map by "giving people something to smile about".
That message was particularly poignant for scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan, whose Williamsdale-based family has been nervously watching the surrounding bushfires as they edge closer to the ACT border.
The Mary's Hill fire was less than 5 kilometres west of the border on Wednesday.
So while the coastal training block was about laying the rugby foundations for 2020, Lonergan and brother Lachlan spent plenty of spare time monitoring wind changes and fire movement.
But the biggest message the former Junior Wallabies skipper has taken from a month of fire destruction and smoke haze is that rugby pre-season training is easy when compared to the battles others are facing.
"The fires haven't moved a whole lot, but if it comes up to our place it's coming to Canberra as well," Lonergan said.
"It's not so much that we've been worried about it because we've been up to date, but it does put it in perspective.
"When training does get tough, you think you could be in the middle of the fires and lose your house or your stock being burnt alive. It could be so much worse, it put it in perspective about how tough people are actually doing it."
Brumbies officials will continue monitoring the air quality in Canberra and Albury as they consider back-up options for training, a trial game and round one on January 31.
The Brumbies will play two trials against the Melbourne Rebels in Albury on January 23 before their season-opener against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium.
The squad will restart training in Canberra on Thursday, with coach Dan McKellar to use every player in the clashes against the Rebels.
Spots will be up for grabs after significant senior-player turnover at the end of last year. McKellar is also expected to unveil a new captain before playing against the Rebels.
MORE CANBERRA SPORT
The trip to Newcastle negated the need for a pre-season camp in Jindabyne and Lonergan said extra time away, and meetings with Bond and Brown, signaled the started of their journey.
"If we all understand why we want to be here and want to play, that gives us a better chance to be on the same page and play better footy," Lonergan said.
"We've connected really well, but we're excited to get home to our community. We just want to get back and hopefully put some smiles on faces.
"A lot of guys play for their families and everyone does. For me it's about fun as well, because if you don't enjoy it you won't get to where you want to be."
SUPER RUGBY TRIAL
January 23: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Greenfield Park, Albury. Game one at 3.45pm, game two at 6.15pm.
SUPER RUGBY ROUND ONE
January 31: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.