CARDIFF: Of the 866 players to have worn the Wallabies jersey, 4 per cent have pulled it on 50 times.
Benn Robinson was the most recent to notch his half century in gold and Berrick Barnes will be the next when he starts at fullback against Wales in Cardiff this weekend.
The one-time league player, who switched to rugby at 19 and on Saturday becomes just the 37th Wallaby to notch 50 Test caps, said resilience was the key to longevity.
''To play 50 Tests you are going to, one, have your spot challenged at times, and two, you are probably going to have to come back from injuries probably once, twice or maybe three times,'' Barnes said.
''If there's one thing it's taught me it's that, I suppose. There are some crazy highs and some bloody big lows, too.
''You have got to ride the waves with it all a fair bit. I think if is there one thing, resilience is what you've got to have.''
Barnes, like many long-serving Wallabies, has fallen in and out of favour with coaches and battled form slumps and injuries. A veteran of two Rugby World Cups, his solid tactical game has saved Australia in the event of injuries to recent preferred playmakers, including Quade Cooper and James O'Connor, and married well with the instinctive style of five-eighth Kurtley Beale.
It is fitting he plays his 50th Test against Wales, a team and a country for which he has a great affinity.
''I had my first starting Test in the World Cup in '07 and had other sort of meaningful games,'' Barnes said. ''Just the Welsh people. They're a good bunch of boys you play against, you rip in and have a beer afterwards. It is a bit of step back into old school, how it used to be. It is a fitting and nice place to do it, providing I get on the field.''
The caveat is no joke. A months-long battle with footballers' migraine last year, not to mention the times he's warmed the bench or missed selection entirely, have made Barnes treasure every time he runs on to the pitch.
''Test-match footy is the purest footy you get … I have loved every opportunity I have got,'' he said. ''It only really gets touched on every Friday when you get the jersey presenter and you hear what it means to guys who've passed the game. It goes pretty quickly for a lot of blokes. I still look at the date and the jersey every time I get it because you are one injury away or a poor game [away from the end].''
This season, more than most, Barnes's goal-kicking has made the difference for Australia. A flaring groin strain forced the 26-year-old to hand over duties to Beale against Italy last week and the same arrangement is likely on Saturday.
''I could have continued last week but I was in a fair bit of pain,'' he said. ''It's the last game of the year, I don't want to tear things. It's goal-kicking that gives me the most amount of grief with this groin, so I am not too sure what the plan is.''
Both playmakers' tactical kicking has come under fire after the England and Italy tests. Coach Robbie Deans said after Twickenham he wanted to rein in the short kicks and conceded in Florence that the side ''didn't kick well''.
Barnes said pressure started well before he or Beale took the ball. ''Sometimes it's execution of the kick, which was the occasion on a couple of times [against Italy], I didn't put it out long enough, you keep it in the field of play, they throw it in and bang it's down your end,'' he said. ''Sometimes it's not working hard off the ball. I thought the England game was the best we mixed our kicking game up all year, and, talking to the England coaches, that was the thing that made the biggest difference, they reckoned. And then we probably let ourselves down on the weekend. So it is about getting it right.''