World Cup hopeful Pete Samu has a four-game opportunity to prove Wallabies coach Michael Cheika wrong when the ACT Brumbies resume their Super Rugby finals charge this week.
Samu was perhaps the biggest omission from Cheika's World Cup planning camp in Brisbane given his form surge has helped put the Brumbies in a perfect position to clinch Australia's guaranteed ticket to the play-offs.
The Brumbies are still at the top of the Australian conference despite having a bye last week and have a chance to extend their lead when they play the Pretoria Bulls in Canberra on Friday.
Cheika's camp, however, will give the Brumbies just one day to train as a full squad before the crucial clash, with the ACT side, the Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs jostling for the top spot.
Samu was a surprise absentee when the Wallabies met in Brisbane, especially considering Cheika targeted him last year as a recruit and lured him back to Australia after a stint at the Canterbury Crusaders.
It's understood partial unavailability for a previous camp could have impact Samu's selection to attend the planning sessions in Brisbane, but his on-field form is starting to peak.
The 27-year-old has been influential in the absence of injured trio David Pocock (calf), Rob Valetini (knee) and Lachlan McCaffrey (knee) and has helped the Brumbies win four of their past five games.
Samu had eight carries, two clean breaks, scored a try, made 12 tackles and forced two turnovers in the last-start win against the Japan Sunwolves. But it wasn't enough to convince Cheika to let him back into the Wallabies' inner-sanctum.
He now has four regular season games to put himself back on the World Cup radar, while Pocock, Valetini and McCaffrey could make their comebacks this week.
Pocock has played just three games and the limited training week could mean the Brumbies take a cautious approach with his return, with the possibility he could make his comeback via a club rugby.
"Everyone's [the Brumbies and Wallabies] on the same page, so there will be no issue. He hasn't ticked all of the boxes yet ... we'll see where he's at [this week]," said Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.
MORE BRUMBIES NEWS
The Brumbies (29 points) are one point ahead of the Rebels and three points in front of the Waratahs on the ladder. It sets up a tense run to the play-offs as the Brumbies aim for a finals return.
"It's going to be a tough road back after the bye, but it is pleasing to go in with a bonus-point win," said winger Henry Speight said.
"We've got a two games at home and two on the road to finish the year, so [finals] is something that is within reach and is really in our hands."
Christian Lealiifano was one of four playmakers called into Wallabies camp, while Joe Powell, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Folau Faingaa, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Pocock, Valetini, Tom Banks, Tevita Kuridrani and Toni Pulu round out the Brumbies contingent.
SUPER RUGBY ROUND 15
Friday: ACT Brumbies v Pretoria Bulls at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.