Scary: Israel Folau scored three tries for the Waratahs against the Force last weekend. Photo: Getty Images
The desire to hear his name uttered in the same breath as rugby legends Jonah Lomu, David Campese and Brian O'Driscoll could keep Israel Folau in rugby beyond the next World Cup.
The Waratahs fullback, who is contracted to rugby until the end of next year, has revealed he considers rugby his long-term home and wants to leave it only when he is considered a legend of the code by its followers.
"That's what I'm looking to achieve," Folau said. "When I re-signed last year I said I wanted to be in the game long term. After next year I'd like to be in the game again for a further - however long that will take me to."
Folau was responding to comments made almost a year ago by then Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
Deans was putting together his squad for the British and Irish Lions series, and Folau, having played just a handful of Super Rugby matches, had committed to Australian rugby for just one year.
Deans told reporters the 24-year-old was in the mix for Test selection. "Israel does some things that no one else can do," he said in May. "How many games has he had now - 10 or so? It's remarkable what he can do for a bloke who's playing his 10th game of rugby.
"Whatever happens, let's hope he sticks around because he could be an absolute legend of the game if he does."
Folau went on to form a crucial part of the Wallabies' run-on side under both Deans and his successor Ewen McKenzie. He re-signed with the Waratahs and Wallabies in August for a further two years.
"You get a lot of confidence out of hearing comments from people like [Deans]," Folau said at Waratahs headquarters on Thursday.
"I'm just really enjoying it, and I want to challenge myself every time I go out there to play Super Rugby or international[s]."
The cross-code battle for the dual international will be fierce next year as the Australian Rugby Union seeks to secure his talents for their 2016 Olympic campaign and the NRL - Folau's first home - looks to lure him back to league.
One thing is for sure: the NRL will not be caught napping again after watching rugby pounce on one of their most marketable talents.
Whether rugby, a code that is under well-documented and considerable financial pressures, will have the firepower to compete with a bullish NRL is another matter.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of clubs who will be in talks with my management when the time comes. It depends how I'm feeling during the time," Folau told Fairfax Media earlier this month.
"I'm in a good place where I'm enjoying the game. If I'm involved in the World Cup that's huge, so I guess it comes to the time to re-assess and see how I'm feeling, but rugby league is definitely on as an option."
For now, Folau is focused on adding ball-playing to his arsenal at the Waratahs.
The fullback has a licence to roam alongside fellow ball-players Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley, and believes it is the key to his evolution in rugby.
"As a fullback I can see now that they're starting to step up and be ball-players as well, and I want to take that on as well," he said.
His growth in rugby is beyond doubt. Where the Folau of 2013 could occasionally go quiet in Test matches, the Folau of early 2014 has been popping up everywhere in attack.
NSW coach Michael Cheika said it was "no coincidence" his fullback was in a position to finish off three tries against the Force last weekend.
"A year into the game you know what to expect and you're thinking a couple of phases ahead where you feel like you're going to be or where you see yourself playing next," Folau said.
The Waratahs play the Queensland Reds at ANZ Stadium on Saturday in the most anticipated of Australia's Super Rugby derby matches.
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis was ruled out late with a knee injury, and will be replaced at No.6 by Stephen Hoiles, with Pat McCutcheon moving to the bench.
The Reds were also hit by injury, ruling out dynamic centre Mike Harris with an ankle injury. Anthony Fainga'a will start in his place, with Ben Lucas taking his place on the bench.