The ACT Brumbies' injury demons of last season have created a ''we're in this together'' mentality as the walking wounded prepare to make their comebacks on Saturday night.
Just months after getting out of ''Team Rehab'', 13 of the 16 players who had surgery last year are set to play against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium to begin the Super Rugby season.
And Matt Toomua insists the time together on limited training duties and rehabilitation programs has brought the players closer as they chase the Brumbies' first finals appearance since 2004.
Despite the club's injury dramas last year, coach Jake White will have almost an entire squad to choose from when he names his team on Thursday.
The only players out of selection contention are Pat McCabe (neck) and Josh Mann-Rea (knee). It's in stark contrast to part of the Brumbies' pre-season where only a handful of players were fit and able to complete all sessions. But Toomua, who missed most of last season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, says the Brumbies' injuries have made the team bond stronger.
''It's easy to feel sorry for yourself but when you look over and see a guy like Christian Lealiifano [with a dislocated ankle] who probably had it worse … you just all say, 'we're in this together','' Toomua said.
''You see people recover and then you know it's not going to be long until it's your turn. Four or five months ago you probably wouldn't have been able to field a back line. But we've more than recovered from everything last season.''
White will unveil his round-one team on Thursday and Clyde Rathbone and David Pocock are confirmed starters.
The South African is expected to name a similar side to the one that played the ACT XV last week, with Toomua and Lealiifano as the flyhalf-centre combination. The most contentious spot is on the wing as Henry Speight and Joseph Tomane battle to partner Rathbone, while Colby Faingaa is in line to win a spot on the bench.
Rathbone, Pocock, Toomua, Lealiifano, Speight, Tomane and Faingaa all had surgery last year.
Add to that starting locks Sam Carter and Scott Fardy as well as scrumhalf Nic White and almost half of the Brumbies' starting XV for round one will have had an operation.
To ensure the players are fit, the Brumbies' back-room staff has been bolstered since White took the coaching reins. Ben Serpell has been added as the rehabilitation coach and he joins Hamish Macauley and Byron Field (physiotherapists), Gavin Thornley (strength and conditioning) and athletic performance director Dean Benton.
The Brumbies linked with the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra gymnastics clubs, used sandpits and anti-gravitation treadmills to aid player recovery and each rehabilitation program was modified to suit the individual. ''As a medical and performance team we always see 'injury equals opportunity','' Benton said.
''Rehabilitation is a unique opportunity for meaningful individual player development. As a principle, the only occasion a training program should be duplicated is for identical twins.
''As a multi-disciplinary staff we created multi-faceted, return-to-play plans for concerned players during the off-season and pre-season.
''[To have all players fit is] very pleasing … in some ways we are a winning team before the first kick-off with what we have achieved.''
McCabe had scans on his neck on Monday and will start to increase his training load in the coming weeks.
The Wallabies centre got positive news after fearing his career could be over when he fractured his neck on the end-of-year tour of Europe.
He is expected return to the field by round four or five.
BORN-AGAIN BRUMBIES: Sam Carter (shoulder), Colby Faingaa (ankle), Scott Fardy (shoulder), Christian Lealiifano (ankle, shoulder), Josh Mann-Rea (knee, shoulder), Dan Palmer (foot), David Pocock (knee), Clyde Rathbone (ankle), Siliva Siliva (knee), Jordan Smiler (shoulder), Andrew Smith (ankle), Ruan Smith (shoulder), Henry Speight (knee), Joseph Tomane (ankle), Matt Toomua (knee), Nic White (shoulder).