From a "goofy" rugby league convert to a potential Wallabies debut, not even Caleb Timu expected this year to pan out the way it has.
The boom Reds backrower was given a big wrap by Waratahs and Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper after a sensational Wallabies audition in the second half of Queensland's loss to NSW, a strong reminder of his talent having spent three weeks on the sidelines recovering from an ankle injury.
A dream Test debut in front of friends and family at Suncorp Stadium - a ground he knows well having played two seasons for the Brisbane Broncos U20s - would cap a remarkable rise for the 24-year-old, who was not on the national radar prior to this Super Rugby season.
"It’s massive - I told my wife that I didn’t think this year was going to go this well," Timu said of a potential debut.
"I feel pretty blessed to be at a good setup at the Reds."I think that’s really helped me a lot and having a coach like Thorny really helps.
"I feel really blessed, honoured and now really want to make the most of the opportunity."
Making the most of that opportunity comes down to hard yards on the training paddock, with both the starting blindside flanker job and a bench spot up for grabs.
"I just have to train hard, prepare well and that’s the ultimate goal - to play for the Wallabies," he said.
Timu's Queensland teammate Taniela Tupou is also a contender for a start at tighthead prop and having scrummaged against him on Saturday, Tom Robertson noticed changes to his work at set piece.
"In the last couple of years he’s a big boy so late in the game he might have an off scrum or two but this year he has been really solid for the full 60 or 80, no matter what he plays," Robertson said."He’s a big, strong guy so it’s definitely difficult coming up against him but he’s been very, very good this year."
Robertson also backed rookie hookers Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Folau Faingaa to fill the shoes left by Tatafu Polota-Nau and Jordan Uelese, the latter suffering a ruptured ACL in the Rebels' win over the Blues.
"It’s very disappointing for a guy like (Uelese) but in saying that I’ve played with both Brandon and Folau Faingaa at club and NRC level and I’m pretty confident in their ability," he said.
"They’re two big units as well so I’m confident no matter who goes out there."
The Wallabies will name Uelese's replacement on Monday afternoon.
The Wallabies take on Ireland in a three-Test June Series, kicking off on Saturday June 9 at 8pm AEST. Buy tickets here.