ACT Brumbies duo Tom Banks and Joe Powell will be agonisingly close to their World Cup dream before being cut from Australia's squad on the eve of the tournament.
The cruel world of sport has added another twist to the pair's rugby journey after they were left out of Wallabies squad to play in Japan next month.
Banks and Powell will instead fly to New Caledonia for a training camp with the rest of the group on Friday and then prepare for a Test on September 7 before their ride ends.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will name his World Cup squad on Friday morning, with David Pocock cleared to return despite minimal game time in the past nine months.
It was mixed news for other Brumbies. Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Folau Faingaa, Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani are all in.
Banks, Powell, Pete Samu, Toni Pulu and Rob Valetini are out, so will use the Canberra Vikings' campaign to stay fit and ready should the Wallabies send an injury SOS during the World Cup.
The Vikings have delayed naming their squad until next week, giving Nick Scrivener's team just two training sessions before their season-opener on August 31.
It is expected fringe Wallabies will be available for National Rugby Championship duty and Scrivener said it would add an extra dimension to the maligned competition.
"I'd imagine the Wallabies will want guys playing rugby. The beauty of the World Cup being in Japan is that far away," Scrivener said.
"So if there is an injury, it's not a big hassle to have someone fly over. It makes sense for guys on the edge to be playing and ready to go.
"There's plenty to play for. That's one of the good things about the NRC. Everyone is motivated by something a little bit different.
"Some young guys might be there for development or Super Rugby contracts, other guys are on the fringes of a World Cup. There's no mucking around."
Powell is perhaps the unluckiest player to miss out on a spot.
The 25-year-old was the form scrumhalf of Australian rugby this year, but Cheika will take only two No. 9s to the World Cup after opting for Nic White and Will Genia.
Powell has been picked in almost every Wallabies squad since making his debut in June 2017 but has played only a handful of minutes in the Test arena.
Banks was the starting fullback for the first Test of the season before being replaced by Kurtley Beale, while Samu and Pulu were recruited to Australia by Cheika this year.
Banks and Powell could miss the first two NRC games because of their role as extended squad members for a pre-World Cup camp before the Wallabies play their first game of the tournament on September 21.
The bulk of the Vikings squad will father for the first time on Friday before Scrivener finalises his roster on Monday and then unveils a captain on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Brumbies have signed hulking teenage second-rower Callum MacDonald as a development player to bolster their lock stocks.
The 19-year-old 204 centimetre powerhouse has been starring for Souths in Brisbane and has forced his way into the Brumbies squad.
Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Faingaa, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, James O'Connor, Jordan Petaia, Matt Toomua, Nic White.