Fairytale return: Pat McCabe. Photo: Getty Images
Storming Brumbies back Pat McCabe could be set for his first Test start in almost two years when the Wallabies take on New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup opener next week.
McCabe ran on the right and left wing at the side's first training session since the Waratahs' players arrived in camp.
He appears to be the frontrunner to replace Nick Cummins, who left to play in Japan at the end of the Western Force's Super Rugby season, and play alongside incumbent winger Adam Ashley-Cooper, with Israel Folau at fullback, Nic White at halfback, Bernard Foley at five-eighth and Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani in the midfield.
McCabe's selection, potentially his first start since the Wallabies' loss to France in November 2012, would cap a remarkable comeback from two potentially career-ending neck injuries in the past two seasons.
The 26-year-old made it back to career-best form – epitomised with his man-of-the-match effort against the Hurricanes in March – but has endured setback after setback along the way. He broke his neck twice, once on the Wallabies' end-of-year European tour in 2012 and then again against the British and Irish Lions, and survived a bad scare earlier this year.
But the hard-running utility who, this year alone, has appeared at fullback and centre for the Brumbies and played twice off the bench at wing for the Wallabies, evidently made a mark in the mind of Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.
His selection would make it even stevens for Brumbies and Waratahs players in the Wallabies' back line after strong finishes – and Australia's first Super Rugby title in three years – from both provinces.
Foley, returning to the training field for the Wallabies after celebrating his side's maiden title win, assured the Bathurst crowd that Australia's most bitter provincial rivals had well and truly buried the hatchet upon their return to the Test fold.
"We've spoken about that game, they [the Brumbies] put up such a good fight and performed so well at the back end of the Super Rugby [competition]," the Wallabies No.10 said.
"That's only good for this squad, that we have that competitive edge when we play each other but when we come together we can gel, put it behind us and have a bit of a laugh about it and move on to the task ahead, which is the All Blacks.
"It doesn't get any bigger, so that's the exciting thing."
The Waratahs beat the Brumbies 26-8 in a tough semi-final in Sydney before pipping the Crusaders in front of 61,800 people at ANZ Stadium a week later.
Now making up more than two-thirds of the Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship, the provincial foes are united in the quest to snap a 12-year period of All Blacks' dominance over the Bledisloe Cup.
"There's a place for the [rivalry between] the Waratahs, the Reds and the Brumbies, but once you get into camp we've got a goal to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup and the first step is beating the All Blacks in Sydney in 10 days' time, so that's what we're looking at," Foley said.
It will be Foley's first start against the All Blacks if McKenzie sticks with his first-choice playmaker in the clean sweep of France. He described it as a milestone.
"The other night was something special, to play before such a big crowd in Sydney, but to do it against the All Blacks in a Bledisloe Cup in your home state, at Homebush, hopefully in front of a capacity crowd, will definitely be a dream come true for me," Foley said.