Jerome Kaino has a "zip in his step" prior to his debut at lock on Sunday against Ireland, according to his captain.
Keiran Read also said a long-term switch to lock could extend Kaino's All Blacks career.
Regular blindside flanker Kaino will win his 76th All Blacks cap in Sunday's Chicago clash with Ireland - his first start in the second row.
New Zealand skipper Read hailed Kaino for being "willing to do anything" for his teammates this week, then backed the 33-year-old for a potential shift into the tight five in the long run.
Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are absent through injury, with Luke Romano headed home after a family bereavement, leaving Kaino to step into the breach.
The uncapped lock Scott Barrett is on the bench.
"It's a first start in a foreign jersey for him, but he's excited by it," said Read of Kaino's move to lock.
"He's all right, he's a bit sore this week. He's had a few extra scrummaging sessions to keep him working out.
"But he's excited by the challenge and I think he's got a zip in his step.
"He's been willing to do anything this week for the boys, he's actually got that zip in his step, so it's awesome to see. Really looking forward to the game.
"Loosies (back-rowers) going into the tight forwards, Todd Blackadder did that.
"If it extends his career it could be a good thing for him."
Read admitted the New Zealand squad have lapped up the Chicago Cubs' World Series victory, with the celebratory parade dominating the city on Friday.
But the 31-year-old No.8 insisted the All Blacks will be straight down to business once Saturday's Soldier Field clash comes around.
"It was a good feeling being right in the World Series," said Read.
"I guess it's like everyone here in Chicago, so the boys are pretty pumped."
The All Blacks kick off against Ireland at 9am Sunday (NZT).