Gloucester Rugby host Zebre on Saturday afternoon as the European Rugby Challenge Cup kicks off (ko 15:15). New signing Jeremy Thrush is available for selection for the Cherry and Whites and buzzing at the prospect.
Thrush, a summer arrival from Super Rugby runners up Hurricanes, touched down in the UK last week, and spoke about how he is settling in in Gloucestershire and in his new surroundings.
"It's been really good actually, everyone here has made it really easy to come in and get to work.
"I got picked up from the airport and came straight to Hartpury to meet some of the guys and the management. It's been really smooth and I've got a nice place to stay at the moment.
Being on the other side of the world, Thrush had to rely on the advice of team-mates and friends to let him know what to expect when he arrived at Kingsholm, and due to being on standby for the World Champions, missed out on the chance to pop over and have a look around.
"I was trying to get a visit in to Gloucester when the club were interested in me, but it didn't really work out. I've talked to a lot of people back home that have been to Cheltenham and Gloucester, and they speak very highly of the area.
"Once I'd signed, I spoke to a few guys. I bumped into Jimmy (Cowan) a couple of times and Mike Anthony, who used to be here for four or five years, he's now working with the Strength and Conditioning team at the All Blacks.
"There's also Jonny (Bentley) who I was playing with at Wellington this year, who knows a few of the guys and I was able to bounce a few questions around, which was good.”
Thrush became only the sixth player to register a century of appearances for the Hurricanes as they ended the Super Rugby season as runners-up despite a comprehensive lead at the top of the table, and he felt that this summer was the right time to move, and Gloucester was the right club to move to.
"I felt like it was a good time for me to go. When I signed at the start of this year I thought that a good way for me to go out was to be in the All Blacks squad for Rugby World Cup. I narrowly missed out on that opportunity but I felt if I did lose out on that, it probably was the right time to move, especially with the masses of young talent around in New Zealand.
"I wanted to try to experience something else, and try and get out of my comfort zone, because I'd been in Wellington for the last eleven years or so, playing for either the Wellington Lions or the Hurricanes so I felt it was a good time to go.”
The Wellington Lions looked imperious during the ITM Championship in recent months before losing the final to Hawkes Bay, and Thrush admits it was a shame to depart with just a runners-up medal.
"That seems to sum up my career in Wellington, which is unfortunate, and hopefully I haven't brought that with me if we get to a final. Hopefully we'll be playing for some more trophies over the next few years!”
And as for first impressions, Thrush is enjoying his first few days in training and preparing for his first run out with his new team-mates.
"I've been really impressed, there's a lot of similarities to what I am used to in New Zealand, but there's some different stuff in terms of the style we play and talking to some of the coaches.
"It's probably a lot more professional than it is in Wellington, but I guess that comes down to financial backing so it's unfair to draw too serious a comparison.
"It's great to have breakfast and lunch cooked for you here, I used to have to bring that in from home so little stuff like that. Coupled with all the support staff involved in this team, it's a little bit different to back home.
"You get a little bit more one on one time with the trainers, and that is great.”
Thrush is available for selection this week, and could make his home debut for the Cherry and Whites with Zebre the visitors, and it is an exciting prospect for the All Black.
"I've heard a lot about Kingsholm, and I know we get a lot of support and it's good to get to our home ground and the crowd will be right behind us, and I look forward to meeting all the supporters.
"I'm pretty happy to have the chance to make my debut at home, and it will be exciting for me.
"It's a new start to the campaign for us. But there will be a few nerves around before the game, but overall I'm massively excited to have a crack and see what it is all about.”
Tickets are still available for Saturday's visit of Zebre Rugby in Round One of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Club members can bring 4 friends for half price using the exclusive club membership voucher booklet.
Visit www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk/tickets or call 0871 871 8781 for more details.