New vibe for Meninga's Kangaroos
Restoring the Australian Kangaroos' pride has been Mal Meninga's mantra since his coaching appointment in December last year.
In May, the Kangaroos took the first step towards returning to international supremacy by beating world No.1 Test side New Zealand 16-0 in Newcastle.
Ending a three-game streak of defeats dating back to the 2014 Four Nations – Australia's longest losing run to the Kiwis since the 1950s – the steps taken off the field that week in re-establishing the DNA of the Kangaroos will perhaps prove more important.
Half of the players picked in Meninga's squad for the upcoming Four Nations tournament in the United Kingdom stepped out on to the now-named McDonald Jones Stadium earlier this year and will be vital for Australia as they continue to build for the 2017 World Cup.
Four players – Trent Merrin, Aaron Woods, Josh Mansour and David Klemmer – will be looking to make their Test football returns as well as gain their first ever victory over the Kiwis.
"The way everyone has jumped on board in their efforts to put the Kangaroos out there has been really good," Kangaroos fullback Darius Boyd told NRL.com.
"Obviously having Mal here now too. Mal is such a big presence in the game for how he's played and how he's coached so having Mal as our coach and leader makes it a little bit more special as well.
"We had a really good week in Newcastle at the beginning of the year and we had a decent game there especially considering our limited preparation," Boyd added.
"It'll be really good to be together long-term this time around, to get our game flowing and play to our best by the end of the tour."
Boyd, an 18-Test veteran, believes the importance of the green-and-gold jumper is growing among players.
"The vibe around Kangaroos is very upbeat – not that it hasn't been before – but there seems to be something special building." Boyd said.
"The NRL obviously has made a stand with a few players too so there seems to be a real pride back in the Australian team.
"It's a real honour to wear the jersey and for it to be put on that pedestal it deserves now. It's really enjoyable to be a part of."
The importance of the Kangaroos certainly wasn't lost on their newer players, including Canberra prop Shannon Boyd.
One of seven new faces in the Kangaroos' squad and having never travelled further than Auckland to play the Warriors, Boyd is hopeful of a worldly experience under Raiders legend Meninga.
"It's a big stepping stone for me in a lot of different ways," Boyd told NRL.com.
"It will be a massive thing for me and hopefully lead me to becoming more of a leader back at the Raiders.
"The plan is to learn as much as I can off these boys and learn as much as I can overseas because it can only lead to good things."