Dean Mumm thought his Test tally would end at 33.
Leaving Australia for Premiership side Exeter, Mumm didn’t feel like he was abandoning Australian rugby, having been out of the Test frame for more than a year.
Returning to Sydney last year, Mumm made an unlikely return to the Wallabies, set to notch his 50th Test, against Argentina on Saturday night.
“When you decide to go way, particularly when the Giteau rule wasn't in place, you basically had to give up any hope of playing for Australia again,” he said.
“When I moved overseas, I thought I'd never be in this position again.
“It’s something I never, ever thought about and never thought about in the early stages of my career either. So it's a tremendous honour.”
The pause in Mumm’s Wallabies career is not one he regrets, rather on the verge of his milestone, he said the time away had given him a new lease on his rugby.
“I think I have improved in that time. I went away, freshened up and got a different perspective on what it means to wear the Wallaby jumper and be part of the identity that we want to be as a team now,” he said.
“When you don't have that, when you let go of it, you realise what it means to you.
“You get a real sense that it’s a really finite period of your life and really finite opportunity and you've got to make the most of it and you’ve got to put yourself out there to be able to get those opportunities as well and that's what coming home for me was."
The Test that got him back on track for the milestone was the Wallabies win in Mendoza last year, with a spectacular try from the second rower, crashing over with four defenders hanging off him.
“It’d been a bloody long time since I'd played in a Test match so I was just trying to make the most of it,” he said.
“You just want to try and get there. I'm not fussed how it happened, I don't get over the line that often.”
Mumm has played 38 of his 49 Tests in the second row but was switched to blindside flanker against South Africa and it’s a move that he’s enjoying, replicating his Super Rugby shifts.