David Pocock was on a remote Zimbabwe farm this time last year, receiving score updates on Wallabies matches via texts from one of his cousins.
On Saturday night, in his first Test in 18 months, a titanic Pocock performance dragged the Wallabies to a series opening win against Ireland.
It was a performance which kept Pocock in the conversation as one of the best flankers in the world and speaking on Sunday morning, the 30-year-old said it was a return to the Test arena he had envisaged during his year long sabbatical.
"There was a fair bit going on over there - it was certainly a break," Pocock said.
"You thought about it from time to time and I guess you think about what an incredible opportunity it is to represent Australia."As an immigrant, I'm so grateful for the opportunities that I've had.
"To be able to pull on the green and gold and represent Australia and go out there and do your best and also know you're representing so many people in Zimbabwe who have been part of the journey - it's a huge honour and something I don't take for granted."
Pocock never doubted his ability to bounce back to his best in the Test arena, despite spending so long away from the gold jersey.
"It's one of those things you don't think too much about," he said.
"You just back yourself and know that if you are doing all your prep, the physical and mental stuff, you'll get back to your best.
"As a rugby player you always want to be chasing that improvement and pushing the boundaries of what you're capable of as a player.
"Most guys certainly don't feel they're at their best - there's always that little bit more you're trying to get out of yourself."
Pocock, Michael Hooper and Adam Coleman led the physical battle and the Wallabies claimed the honours in that department but the star flanker expected the Irish pack to return serve in Melbourne on Saturday.
"It's something that's crucial at this level," he said.
"Test matches are physical and the games are often won and lost there.
"Ireland are a big side and I thought they were also very physical.
"I'm sure game two is going to be the same."
While Pocock's game was near perfect, the custom made headgear he was wearing is in far worse condition, slipping off several times on Saturday night.
"The velcro is worn, I need to get it replaced," Pocock said.
"After the game I was signing autographs and a woman came up with an older headgear that I had given away but it was better than the one I was wearing (laughs).
"I actually swapped her out so I will definitely wear the headgear in Melbourne."
The Wallabies face Ireland in the second of three June Test in Melbourne on Saturday, kicking off at 8pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au radio. Buy tickets here.