Bernard Foley staked his claim for the Wallabies' five-eighth role after piloting the NSW Waratahs back into the Super Rugby top six on Sunday.
Foley had a hand or foot in four of NSW's five tries and landed seven goals from as many attempts in the Waratahs' 41-13 bonus-point win over the Lions at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
The decisive victory marked the first time in 2½ months the Waratahs had won back-to-back matches and catapulted Michael Cheika's men from eighth on the ladder to fourth as the countdown to the finals begin in earnest.
Foley's eye-catching 21-point contribution was the perfect response to revelations that Australia's incumbent No. 10, Quade Cooper, will miss the June 7 Test against France in Brisbane after sustaining a serious shoulder injury on Saturday night.
Cooper was hurt early in the Queensland Reds' 30-27 loss to the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium and will be out for at least a month.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has a plethora of options at his disposal, but Foley's classy performance was a timely reminder of his all-round capabilities.
The 24-year-old opened the scoring with a solo try and provided the second before half-time for midfield partner Kurtley Beale with a skilful left-foot grubber kick into the in-goal area.
Foley then handled twice for the Waratahs' match-sealing third five-pointer to winger Rob Horne after the break and put the icing on the cake with a sideline conversion after the full-time siren following another key touch for Horne's second try.
Centre Adam Ashley-Cooper also crossed after reeling in Beale's chip over the top as the Waratahs remained unbeaten at home in 2014 to close to within one point of Australian conference leaders the Brumbies. The Waratahs' round-17 clash with the Brumbies in Sydney looms as a likely conference decider.
■ Queensland skipper James Horwill claimed Super Rugby was being ruined and the Reds were ''robbed'' after a video over-ruling against the Rebels on Saturday night.
Horwill could not hide his rage after the Rebels secured their first win over the Reds after a late penalty awarded on review by video official Steve Lescinski, who ruled an eye-gouge by Ed O'Donoghue.
''In the end, once again we were robbed by a stupid refereeing decision,'' he told Fox Sports.
Horwill could face sanctions from SANZAR for his outburst.