The "chat" among the ACT Brumbies as their team bus snaked up the Hume Highway away from smoke-choked Canberra to Newcastle centred on going to the beach and having a good time.
The beach bit was on the money. The squad have been regulars at Bar and Merewether breaks for recovering sessions.
Otherwise, it has been a grueling slog as preparation for the start of the Super Rugby campaign have ramped up.
"The training has been tough," rookie outside back Mack Hansen said after a 90-minute field session in 34-degree heat at Newcastle University on Friday.
"On the way up, there was chat about going to the beach and having a good time."
The Brumbies arrived on Sunday for the impromptu training camp after the bushfires which have raged on the NSW south coast made the air quality in Canberra the most hazardous in the world.
They will remain in Newcastle until Wednesday.
And with the Super Rugby season opener against the Queensland Reds only three weeks away, players are pushing hard to win a place in the starting side.
"Every week is a big week, especially in pre-season," Hansen said. "We are all pretty young this year and we are fighting for spots."
Hansen, 21, came through the Brumbies academy and made his Super Rugby debut against the Waratahs last season, playing five minutes off the bench in a 19-13 win at home in round five.
It was his only appearances in a Wallabies-laden side which won the Australian conference before going down to the Jaguares 39-7 in the semi-final in Buenos Aires.
The retirement of fly-half Christian Leali'ifano and departure by winger Henry Speight to the Reds has created vacancies in the backline.
Hansen played fly-half for the Junior Wallabies but has concentrated more on fullback and wing since graduating to the Brumbies squad.
Buoyed by a strong season for the Canberra Vikings in the National Rugby Championships, Hansen has an eye on a spot in the back three and will be competing with Tom Banks, Toni Pulu, Andy Muirhead and rugby league recruit Solomone Kata.
"All I can do is keep training and keep trying to put my name forward," said the 21-year old, who has been likened to a young Stephen Larkham. "I know I will have to work my way into the team. I have put on a bit of size which is nice. Skill-wise Pete Hewatt (backs coach) has been really good ... especially with my kicking."
The Brumbies will have an intraclub hit out when they return to Canberra before a trial against the Melbourne Rebels in Albury on January 24.
"Round one is just around the corner," Hansen said. "We were at Christmas the other day and now we are focusing all our attention on the Reds. We are hammering our structures and the type of game we want to play."
Although in Newcastle, Hansen said the players' minds were not far from Canberra and the surrounding regions.
"There is not too much we can do for Canberra at the moment, but as soon as we get home I'm sure the boys will get together and do anything we can to help," he said. "It is a really tough time for regions around Canberra and Australia in general. If we can bring any happiness by wining games, that is something to strive for."