They say James Slipper is the type of bloke to be absolutely busted and still tell you he's right to go.
So just how far from 100 per cent was he when he made an early return from injury to help the ACT Brumbies offset an alarming test of their front-row depth?
"I haven't done much running for the past month so that probably showed at the 50-minute mark," Slipper laughed about his Super Rugby AU return last week.
"But mate, we were in a bit of a sticky situation where there wasn't many players [available in the front-row]. At the end of the day, I just wanted to win a game of rugby for the club so I just had to do it."
He did it out of his regular position to boot, shifting from loosehead prop to tighthead prop in a bid to cover the hole left by Allan Alaalatoa's suspension and Tom Ross' injury.
MORE RUGBY UNION
Now he is prepared to do it all again as the Brumbies prepare to face the NSW Waratahs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night.
The Waratahs are searching for their first win of the season amid a period of turmoil that saw coach Rob Penney axed, while the Brumbies are chasing top spot on the competition ladder.
Stopping Slipper looms as one of the home side's toughest tasks as the Brumbies look to establish dominance at scrum time against Waratahs front-row trio Angus Bell, David Porecki and Harry Johnson-Holmes.
"He's one of those guys that has a bit of an aura around him," Brumbies captain Nic White said of Slipper.
"I don't think anyone doubted it, but to hear a guy that was probably scheduled to come back in a week or two, to want to come back early and help the team out just goes to show what sort of guy he is. He has a huge impact on the squad, and it's qualities like that the squad admire.
"He's come back at a pretty time for us, not only in his position ... well, he has changed positions and gone across to tighthead, but he is no stranger to that.
"At a time where we certainly needed our leaders to step up there, I thought he was awesome last week. It's not just what he's doing in the dark arts of the scrum, it's what he's doing from Monday to Friday."
Alaalatoa is due back from suspension for next week's road trip to face the Melbourne Rebels while Scott Sio continues to nurse an elbow injury.
For now Slipper and Canberra junior Harry Lloyd will shoulder the responsibilities in the scrum as they did against the Western Force, with Fred Kaihea and Sefo Kautai to provide reinforcements from the bench.
"I've done a bit of tighthead earlier in my career. It was difficult, by the end of my stint I was exhausted. We did pretty well there which was good," Slipper said.
"At the end of the day we just want to win games and that's our main focus. Each game, we know we can get better. If I'm honest, we're going to have to get better to win the competition."
One senses there are few better teammates Brumbies players could watch as they search for ways to take their game to another level in a race to the minor premiership with the Queensland Reds.
"His experience brought really good set piece, we obviously dominated there at scrum, which is an area they wanted to come hard at us at," Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
"His physicality, his lungs were certainly tested there at different times but he gave us what we know Slips will always give us and that's good set piece, leadership, and genuine physicality and toughness."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND SEVEN
Friday: NSW Waratahs v ACT Brumbies at Sydney Cricket Ground, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Stan Sport.
ACT Brumbies squad: 1. Harry Lloyd, 2. Folau Fainga'a, 3. James Slipper, 4. Nick Frost, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Tom Cusack, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White (c), 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Andy Muirhead, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Tom Wright, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Fred Kaihea, 18. Sefo Kautai, 19. James Tucker, 20. Rory Scott, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Mack Hansen.
NSW Waratahs squad: 1. Angus Bell, 2. David Porecki, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Jeremy Williams, 5. Max Douglas, 6. Hugh Sinclair, 7. Carlo Tizzano, 8. Will Harris, 9. Jake Gordon (c), 10. Will Harrison, 11. James Ramm, 12. Lalakai Foketi, 13. Izaia Perese, 14. Alex Newsome, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. Tom Horton, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Darcy Breen, 19. Michael Wood, 20. Charlie Gamble, 21. Jack Grant, 22. Tane Edmed, 23. Mark Nawaqanitawase.
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