In a huge boost for the Wallabies' World Cup prospects, champion flanker David Pocock is set for a surprise early return during the Rugby Championship.
Battling a "rare" calf injury, Pocock last month offered no guarantees he'd be fit for this year's global showpiece in Japan after being forced to retire from Super Rugby.
But Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has revealed the reigning John Eales Medallist was on track for a much earlier comeback than expected.
Cheika was planning to meet with Pocock on Saturday
"So I'll be able to find out first-hand myself," Cheika said at Randwick Rugby Club's annual luncheon in Sydney on Friday.
"First of all, I think David is going to be in good shape when it comes to even the earlier series, not just the World Cup but the Rugby Championship that is coming beforehand."
Pocock tore his calf on the first day of a Wallabies pre-season camp in January and has been unable to make a full recovery, restricting the 31-year-old to just three games for the Brumbies in 2019.
He's had multiple injections, enlisted the help of AIS medical staff and sacrificed a shot at winning a Super Rugby crown with the Brumbies, Australia's only side to make this year's finals.
"The best thing now is to take the pressure off and actually get it right rather than continuing to do what I was doing," Pocock said when he announced his Super Rugby retirement.
"I'd be very disappointed (if I never play again). It could be the case, I don't know. But I'll certainly be doing everything I can for it not to be the case."
Pocock's now-anticipated return for the Wallabies, whenever it may come during the Rugby Championship, also gives Cheika a welcome selection dilemma.
Without Pocock, Cheika wouldn't have to agonise between Pocock and skipper Michael Hooper as his starting No.7.
While he admits he'd prefer a more traditional back row, rather than using two specialist openside flankers, the awesome class of both Hooper and Pocock created a conundrum.
"(It's tough) when you've got two guys that are so damn good, which they are," he said.
"You've only had to watch Hooper play this year. There's not a player pound for pound who plays like him in the game because he's not the biggest guy of all time but he is as tough as they come and will put his body on the line for anything.
"Pocock will put himself in front of a truck if it's coming front of him to steal a ball."
The Wallabies open their Test season in Johannesburg on July 20 against South Africa.