Matt Toomua thought his Wallabies days were numbered, hit with an injury setback in his final season before an impending move to Leicester.
Toomua, who has 31 Wallabies caps, falls well short of the “Giteau Law” threshold to keep him eligible for Tests overseas and knew signing with the Tigers meant surrendering that chance.
A slow comeback after a knee cleanout pushed the prospect of a final Test hurrah back but he was able to join the squad ahead of the first Test, working his way back to full fitness in recent weeks.
“One of my goals this year was to play again in that gold jersey,” he said.
“I know I'm going at the end of the year so for a while there I didn't think it might happen again, with the injury and stuff.
“Definitely no shortage of motivation from my personal point of view.”
Toomua’s role will be a crucial one on the weekend, as a second playmaker to support Bernard Foley, who has had a target squarely on his back through this series.
Originally a 10, Toomua has played both 10 and 12 for the Brumbies and said that insight would make it easier to help out Foley in this third Test.
“There is obviously a lot of pressure at 10 so slotting into 12 with that background I can kind of get the feel for the game, because I have a lot more time than Bernard,” he said.
“He is a lot closer to the action. That's what I will try and do. I have played with Bernie quite a few times now, so hopefully we can gel together quite nicely.”
As for the team as a whole, this weekend is one for pride, but also one for playing smarter.
“I think it dents your confidence in the sense that we're a proud team and we want to win and we haven't won,” he said.
“They've definitely been a better team in both games. I think we still believe in our vision and the way we want to play. We’ve just got to be smart and work on our roles and work harder off the ball.
“It's not a case of don't ever kick the ball, let's run from everywhere, but it's about being smart where we run and working off the ball so we can actually attack in different parts of the field.
Toomua said it wasn’t a case of needing to start from scratch, rather just sticking to their systems more rigidly.
“I think we've, some guys have been trying to do other people's roles too much and we just need to trust our shape and trust that system but by no means are we back to the drawing board and changing who we are.
“I think we've got to be who we are in the tough moments and the nice moments as well because I think a lot of people can vouch for when it works, it's worked very well for us.”
His inclusion is one more of structure than of his predecessor’s poor form, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika quick to heap praise on Samu Kerevi, who has been inside centre for the opening two Tests.
“I don’t want to say this to the detriment of Kerevi or to any way belittle his performances because he’s been outstanding…for a young guy to come in in his first two Test matches…because of the nature of the way we played we didn’t have the two playmakers, he was playing pretty much all over the place and he’s made a serious impact,” he said.
“He’s carried the ball more metres than anyone in the last two games, or he’s up there with Dane (Haylett-Petty) and Izzy (Folau), and he’s not seemed...you guys have watched him play…he’s not seemed out of his depth at all.”
Kerevi has been left out of the squad entirely, with Tevita Kuridrani holding his position at 13.