Christian Lealiifano says maturity has helped him force his way back into the Wallabies squad, but it's the career-best statistics which can reignite his Test career.
The inspirational ACT Brumbies leader is back in the Wallabies squad for the first time in three years as Wallabies coach Michael Cheika weighs up playmaker options.
Lealiifano was pushing to play against South Africa in Johannesburg on Sunday morning, but he has been ruled out of the first Test of the Rugby Championship with a shoulder injury.
The niggling problem will delay what is undoubtedly world rugby's feel good story after he was diagnosed with leukaemia in August, 2016.
It's likely Bernard Foley will get first crack at the No. 10 jersey in his absence, but if Cheika needs any convincing to take a chance on Lealiifano he only needs to look at the numbers of his remarkable return.
Lealiifano led the Brumbies to the Super Rugby finals this year. His individual performance mirrored team success, recording career-high try assist figures, equal career-high linebreak assists and his most runs since 2015.
"They haven't picked me just because I'm back and healthy again," Lealiifano said.
"They've picked me, Cheik said, on form and the way I've been playing. I'm really proud that it's not just a token selection.
"It's come off the back of some hard work and a lot of support in and around my family and my friends as well and teammates."
Fox Sports Lab numbers show Lealiifano's journey of the past three years after being diganosed with a life-threatening illness at the end of the 2016 Super Rugby campaign.
Lealiifano played 16 games, had a goal-kicking percentage of 77.8, put on two try assists and made 120 tackles in 2016 before his diagnosis.
His first full season back was in 2018, playing 14 games, averaging 57.9 per cent from shots at goal, had five try assists and made 97 tackles.
But feeling healthier, fitter and stronger this year, Lealiifano played almost every minute in 18 games, averaged 88.1 per cent with his kicking, set up eight tries and made 128 tackles.
Matt Toomua, James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale are also flyhalf options this year, while Foley is the incumbent.
Time could work against Lealiifano given there are just five Tests before the opening game of the World Cup, giving Cheika limited time to experiment.
Cheika left Lealiifano out of the World Cup squad in 2015, but form may pave the way to redemption.
Asked what he felt had improved in his overall game since his last Test, in June 2016 against England, Lealiifano said: "Just the maturity that I've had over the last 24 months. Through your journey your perspective changes on things and being able to try and find different ways to be better.
"I've found the composure and the control of what I've had throughout the last couple of seasons. Playing in different competitions has helped me with that and hopefully that will help me in a Test arena as well."
The rugby world was rocked by Lealiifano's diagnosis almost exactly three years ago.
He lost 12 kilograms and was told he may never play rugby again. Eleven months later he played for the Brumbies in a finals match and is now in remission.
"It'd be right up there," said Lealiifano when asked how returning in a gold jersey would rank among his career highlights.
"It's something I never thought would happen again. Obviously, to even play footy, but to be back in the squad is something I'm really proud of and grateful for as well."
The emotion and remarkable journey isn't lost on Rugby Australia's director of rugby Scott Johnson.
"It's a human story," Johnson said. "I mean, I take it quite personal because my first wife passed away of the same disease, so I understand that. I've taken his ride a little bit personal, so I get that.
"I've watched him this year and he's played in big games. He's certainly the Christian of old where he's got a real presence on the field.
"We're taking into consideration what's best for Christian and we're having a look because he's a valuable contributor both on and off the field in the squad. He's been a real pleasant surprise and it's so nice to see him there."
The Wallabies' new three-man selection panel of Johnson, Cheika and Michael O'Connor will pick the first side of the year on Thursday.
LEALIIFANO BY THE NUMBERS
2016: 16 games, 3.8 runs per game, 2 try assists, 12 linebreak assists, 120 tackles, 77.8 kicking percentage
2017: 1 game (comeback match), 2 runs, 0 try assists, 0 linebreak assists, 5 tackles, 0 kicks
2018: 14 games, 3.1 runs per game, 5 try assists, 15 linebreak assists, 97 tackles, 57.9 kicking percentage
2019: 18 games, 3.9 runs per game, 8 try assists, 15 linebreak assists, 128 tackles, 88.1 kicking percentage