ACT Brumbies veteran Clyde Rathbone will approach his Super Rugby comeback as the last game of his career, adamant he can contribute to the club's bid to stay in the championship race.
Rathbone has been called up to join the Brumbies on their finals tightrope and will play his first game of the season when they take on the Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old has played just 180 minutes of Canberra club rugby in the past 14 weeks after a persistent hamstring injury crippled the start to his Super Rugby season.
Clyde Rathbone has been called up to join the Brumbies on their finals tightrope. Photo: Melissa Adams
But the 2004 title winner and former Wallabies winger, who is set to get a second retirement at the end of the year, said he wanted to make an impact in the last months of his career.
"You never know when it will be your last game, that's how I've approached the last couple of years, and last year I told myself that every game was my last game," Rathbone said.
"The more I think about it, this will be my last year in rugby. I want to make it a good one in the last few games.
"When you're getting towards the end of your career, you realise how big of an occasion these games are. You never know when it's your last one."
Rathbone will leave the Brumbies at the end of the season but has not completely closed the door on a playing stint in Japan or Europe.
The 26-Test Wallaby was forced into an early retirement in 2009 because of chronic injuries.
He opened up about his battle with depression in 2012.
Rathbone's weight ballooned and his life spiralled out of control before he made a remarkable transformation to make a Super Rugby comeback with the Brumbies last year.
But, despite playing in the grand final last season, Rathbone is not interested in a fairytale send-off.
"When guys retire, they want to go out on their terms. But nothing is entirely on your terms," Rathbone said.
"But the only thing I can worry about is my attitude and giving 100 per cent. It doesn't make any sense to alter your approach, whether it's your first or last game.
"I don't get caught up in fairy tales. I think it's easy for people to look at my comeback in rugby terms and think it's a great story. But the stuff that has happened for me isn't purely rugby.
"It's about feeling well again, catching up with mates and stuff that doesn't make headlines. I don't give the rugby side more focus than it deserves. It's important, but it's not the be-all and end-all."
Robbie Coleman's illness and Joseph Tomane's busted cheekbone have opened the door for Rathbone to get his chance to impress.
Rathbone was prepared to spend the entire season on the fringes and contribute to the Brumbies at training if that was what coach Stephen Larkham wanted.
Despite a problematic hamstring and illness ruining the start to his year, Rathbone says his determination to continue until the end of the season never wavered.
He has played just three games for Easts in the Canberra premier division – totalling 180 minutes – since injuring his hamstring in a match for the ACT XV at the start of March.
"I'll compete for however long I'm on the field . . . after a game you know if you've done that and I'll be comfortable looking back at the end of the game knowing I've done everything I can whatever the result is – that's my attitude," Rathbone said.
"My time might not have come, I might not have got a chance. But I had to prepare so I was ready if it did come. You just have to take your opportunities when they come up."