The curious case of forgotten Wallaby Pete Samu's shock omission from the World Cup squad left many scratching their heads, including ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.
The two-time Super Rugby champion Samu bizarrely tumbled off Australia's selection radar in recent months despite being one of the most influential back-rowers in the competition this year.
He barely rated a mention at the World Cup announcement in Sydney as one of the unlucky players to miss a ticket to the tournament in Japan just 12 months after Michael Cheika recruited him to Australia.
So what happened the to Brumbies' No. 8 who turned heads in his debut season in Australia and was earmarked as a World Cup Wallaby?
It's believed partial unavailability for a camp in March may have impacted his Wallabies selection stocks and a hamstring injury in the Super Rugby finals ruled him out for a four-week block.
Samu was fit and available for selection for both Bledisloe Cup matches and the World Cup, but Cheika has opted for Jack Dempsey in the squad and Liam Wright as the next in line.
Instead of packing his bags to play in the World Cup, Samu will instead be a part of the Canberra Vikings' National Rugby Championship campaign.
"I think within a World Cup squad of 31 where versatility is important and the way Pete performed, I thought he would have been a chance to go to Japan," McKellar said.
"I'm surprised [Samu wasn't picked]. It took him some time to settle in, as it does for all players who go to new clubs.
"His second half of the season was very good and his last six weeks was very good. We missed him when he was injured in the finals. He needs to keep playing, so he'll be in the Vikings. He needs to be ready to go if the Wallabies do call."
The Vikings will name their squad on Monday and unveil a captain on Tuesday, with several Brumbies expected to feature in the hit-and-run seven-week competition.
Eight Brumbies were picked in the Wallabies squad to play in Japan, with Christian Lealiifano, Folau Faingaa, Rory Arnold and Allan Alaalatoa to make their World Cup debut.
David Pocock has been cleared to return, Scott Sio and Tevita Kuridrani will be playing at their second World Cup and James Slipper has earned selection for his third shot at glory.
Joe Powell and Tom Banks are in New Caledonia with the Wallabies as extended squad training members, giving them outside hope of being called up in the case of an injury emergency.
Powell missed out after Nic White and Will Genia were taken as the two scrumhalves, and former Brumby White sympathised with the Tuggeranong junior after being in the same position four years ago.
White was left out of the 2015 World Cup squad when Cheika opted to take Genia and Nick Phipps, with Matt Giteau acting as the back up.
"He's even a similar age to what I was four years ago," White said.
"It's tough. What do you say? It's gut-wrenching. Hopefully it has the affect on him that it did on me in terms of sparking that fire in the belly and I think it sparked me push my game further."
The Vikings' campaign will have added significance this year as players use it as a World Cup audition in case of injury and the Brumbies blood untested talent.
Noah Lolesio and Bayley Kuenzle will likely both spend time in the vacant flyhalf role, with Lealiifano ending his Australian career after the World Cup.
"It's an important few months for our younger players, an important development block," McKellar said.
Ryan Lonergan and Mack Hansen have been slated to spend time in the No. 9 and No. 15 jerseys respectively, but Powell and Banks will also be keen to play when they return from New Caledonia.
NRC ROUND ONE
August 31: Melbourne Rising v Canberra Vikings at Box Hill, 1.30pm.