Manly hooker Lachlan Croker says he's excited for an extended road trip with his teammates but admits that for players with families heading into a period of great uncertainty could be unsettling.
Like 11 other NRL clubs, Manly piled up truckloads of gear and 41 players and staff and shipped out of Sydney on Wednesday for South-East Queensland where they will be forced to isolate for 14 days and maintain strict protocols for at least another two weeks after that as the NRL escapes the latest Sydney COVID outbreak.
He admitted to a level of nervousness but was happy to embrace a new challenge – similar to the one already taken on by the Warriors and Storm last year for extended periods.
"We don't know what we're stepping into, what's going to happen, how long we're going to be there for, what the environment's going to be like but it's exciting," Croker said shortly before departing Sydney.
"I love getting away with the boys and spending time with them. Obviously for guys with families it's a little bit harder so I'm more worried about them than us young fellas. It will be interesting but there's no other way around it other than to dive into it.
Each team's Queensland hub
"We're all sort of nervous, we don't really know what's ahead of us. It's going to be hard being away from what we do every day and what's familiar to us. Time will tell."
There was also a newfound appreciation for what the Warriors and Storm went through last year.
"The next month of footy will show where we're really at and how grateful we should have actually been for the effort those guys put in and being away from their families and all that sort of stuff," he added.
"At the end of the day we're still lucky enough to be playing and have footy on TV."
Players with families were mostly bringing their loved ones up, which will help.
"I think most of the kids are coming up which is good, then there's a few partners coming up as well,'' said Croker.
"There's a few left behind that are holding down the fort for a few of us. If we have to stay longer and there's another intake I'm assuming more will come up then. That's probably the boat I'm in, we'll see how it goes."
Coach Des Hasler said he hadn't seen or heard any reluctance from any players when it came to uprooting their lives for a month or more, and paid credit to the ARL Commission, NRL and clubs for the mammoth logistical undertaking.
"When we get up there and everyone is playing, we'll reflect on it as being a massive achievement," Hasler said.
Hamlin-Uele leads another big week of Try July celebrations
"From all perspectives – the Commission, the leaders at the NRL, the leaders of the clubs, the players, the staff. Particularly the players because at the end of the day they're the ones making huge sacrifices.
"Logistically, when you multiply it by 12 and look at the operations it's been a huge effort but one that is for the game a real achievement."
As much as the week is disruptive for all 12 clubs moving to Queensland, none are more disrupted than Manly's Friday night opponents the Dragons, who have sacked Paul Vaughan with 12 other players issued varying breaches and suspensions over a COVID breach at Vaughan's house.
That will only make the Dragons more desperate, according to Croker.
Every try from round 17
"We're all aware of what happened and the situation they're in but by no means are we taking this game with any less intensity or interest than any other game," he said.
"They've still named a very good team considering the suspensions and that sort of stuff.
"We know we're in for a game this weekend. They've obviously had a week off then with all the stuff that's gone on with them they're going to be ready for a good game of footy.
"It's one we need to win and we need to put a good performance in. We're really excited for it but we're well aware of the challenges we're going to face."