Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper is excited by the new blood in his camp ahead of the upcoming Super 14 campaign.
Three new caps - experienced Magpies skipper Michael Johnson, hooker Hike Elliot and wing Zac Guildford - will progress from the Air New Zealand Cup semi-finalists to the Super 14 this season.
The central franchise completed their pre-Christmas training programme in Hawke's Bay this week.
"I'm very impressed with Michael Johnson," Cooper told The Dominion Post. "Not just his physicality and his fitness but his leadership and we're really happy with what he's going to bring to the team.
"It's been different. To excite players you've got to do things differently all the time but you've also got to have competition and a challenge for them, so the trainers have done a tremendous job on bringing stuff that's new but also doing the hard work."
The Hurricanes return to training on January 7 ahead of their pre-season opener against the Crusaders on January 25.