It is Saturday, March 9. George Smith has just marked his headlining return to Super Rugby with a superb 70-minute performance for the Brumbies.
It is a sweet outcome for all of the Brumbies and their fans, too, with their 35-6 round four win against the Waratahs at Canberra Stadium.
In the Brumbies locker room, players are back-slapping each other, elated about their win over their arch rivals NSW and that Smith is back to share it.
Old ways: George Smith takes the ball up. Photo: Getty Images
The only tinge of regret is the knee injury that sidelined David Pocock after 10 minutes and fast-tracked Smith's call-up from the bench to play at No. 7.
Players start to circle in readiness to sing the team song, a song Smith had sung many times in his 10-year 120-game spell with the Brumbies that ended in May 2010 when he left Australia to play in France and later Japan.
In honour of his return to Canberra, Smith is asked to take centre place in the players' circle and lead the song once more. But the 110-Test veteran has forgotten how it starts and looks to hooker Stephen Moore to ask.
''It came back quite quickly; but I needed the first word to start it off,'' Smith laughs as he recalls the moment from New Zealand where the Brumbies will play the Highlanders at Dunedin on Friday night.
He looked like the Smith of old against the Waratahs; but the Tokyo-based Suntory Sungoliath backrower, who was allowed to play for the Brumbies on a short contract that ends on May 31, was more nervous than most ever knew.
His return to Canberra Stadium began awkwardly. Upon arrival at the locker room, instinct led Smith to his old booth in the corner, only to realise that it was no longer his, but winger Joe Tomane's. Graciously, says Smith, Tomane ''gave it back to me, which was very nice. I was happy with that''.
He reacquainted himself with the tribal atmosphere of a Brumbies crowd in the warm-up before taking his unaccustomed place on the bench for kick-off. He then watched every Brumbies pass, tackle, kick and step to fast-track his knowledge of game patterns and calls only given to him a week earlier. Smith, 32, was happy to play apprentice to Pocock, 24, who took his Wallabies No. 7 slot in 2009.
So when Pocock broke down against the Waratahs, Smith was taken aback. ''I wasn't expected to play the minutes I have had. I was surprised as anyone that 'Poey' didn't go on,'' Smith says. ''Obviously, we didn't know the [season-ending] seriousness of the injury. I was looking forward to working alongside David. I am not too proud to say that I wanted to learn off him. But to come on after 10 minutes, with the week I had … I was pretty uncomfortable with the calling structures and how the Brumbies play which is a completely different way to how we play at Suntory.
''But once I got out there, instincts took over. I followed the ball, fed off others and tried to search for information. We also played extremely well.''
So what brought Smith back to Australian rugby? It was not money, nor the lure of winning another Super title or the dream of pushing his way back into the Wallabies for the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour to Australia - despite calls he should be picked.
Smith's motivation was far simpler. He prefers to play rather than train for rugby. After the Japanese season ended last year, he played well for French Top 14 side Stade Francais in Paris. But even when Eddie Jones, a Suntory Sungoliath consultant, and Brumbies coach Jake White hatched a plan for Smith to play with the Brumbies for three months, he still had doubts. ''I had reservations,'' Smith says.
''I felt I had left a really good legacy in Australia in my Super and Test rugby and thought, 'Would I jeopardise that by coming back for the Australian public to see me in a different light?'
''But after a couple of days talking to my wife Louise, I was very confident of my ability at this level to make an impact rather than be a passenger.''
While Smith would still consider any opportunity to play for the Wallabies again, he intends to honour his Suntory Goliath contract and return to Japan.
''If I was considered for the Lions, I would think about it because it's such a huge occasion. But I haven't had - or made - any direct contact with the ARU in regards to that,'' says Smith.
As for Smith's ultimate future, one thing is sure. Don't expect another Brumbies comeback. As he says: ''I don't want to sound like Johnny Farnham''.