Henry Stowers should have been trotting around Newcastle No. 2 Sportsground in the Shute Shield on Saturday.
Instead the ACT Brumbies ring-in will suit up in front of a capacity crowd at Lang Park for a Super Rugby AU final against the Queensland Reds.
The 26-year-old back-rower has been named on the Brumbies' bench for the decider to cap off a stunning career revival after answering an SOS from coach Dan McKellar.
Stowers is part of a major back-row reshuffle, with Rob Valetini shifting to No. 8 in the absence of injured star Pete Samu. Nick Frost fills the void at flanker.
Veteran prop James Slipper will miss out through a knee injury, with Scott Sio called into the starting XV while Harry Lloyd rejoins the bench. Lachie Lonergan starts at hooker while Folau Fainga'a starts on the pine.
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Stowers has been in camp with the Brumbies for just two weeks and finds himself on the verge of a grand final after being called in to cover an injury crisis when Jahrome Brown, Tom Cusack and James Tucker went down.
McKellar admits he was stunned when he found out Stowers was still playing for the Hunter Wildfires in the NSW club rugby competition.
He was so impressed by Stowers during his stint at the Western Force that he was "one hundred per cent" certain he would have been snapped up by a professional program somewhere.
"Big Henry, who a few weeks ago thought he was preparing to play for Newcastle in the Shute Shield, finding himself in a Super Rugby grand final," McKellar said.
"I was amazed Henry wasn't signed to be honest, by any franchise or team across the globe because I thought he was outstanding last year for the Force.
"I was a little bit shocked when I heard he was still available. He has worked hard and got himself in Super Rugby shape over the past few weeks. He'll be good for us.
"I enquired about Henry months ago after [Will] Miller retired and [Lachlan] McCaffrey was going overseas. It didn't work out at that point in time, but I've always rated him highly.
"The guy has played in a World Cup for Samoa, he certainly did some damage against us last year and can cover all three positions [in the back-row]."
McKellar hopes Slipper and Samu will play a role at some point during the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition, which kicks off next week.
But for now their absence creates opportunity. In Lonergan, they have a hooker earmarked as a future Wallaby by national team coach Dave Rennie, with Fainga'a carrying a niggling injury.
In Sio, "one world class player replaces another" with Slipper missing out on the squad.
And in Frost, they have a rising star of Australian rugby which most have traditionally seen only as a lock. But to McKellar and the Brumbies, he has all the makings of a No. 6.
"He adds a new element to our lineout there, I don't think our lineout has been this tall since the days of Jake White," Sio said.
"It's good for me to see all that height there when we can potentially call anyone. Really excited for Frosty, it's a huge opportunity for him and I know he has put in the work this week to be ready to go."
The Brumbies will arrive in Brisbane as rank outsiders, underdogs against a team they consider the darlings of the competition.
So after a light week on the training paddock ensuring they will be primed to rip in come Saturday night, the reigning champions have adopted a siege mentality as they hunt for back-to-back Australian titles.
"If you can't get motivated for Saturday night, you're in the wrong game," McKellar said.
"We know Queensland are the favourites, and deservedly so. A lot of people want them to win, it would be a great story in a few people's eyes for the game in this country, but it's our job to make sure that doesn't happen."
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
Saturday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Lang Park, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Stan Sport and 9Gem. Tickets from Ticketek.
ACT Brumbies squad: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Lachlan Lonergan, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Nick Frost, 7. Rory Scott, 8. Rob Valetini, 9. Nic White, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Andy Muirhead, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Folau Fainga'a, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Henry Stowers, 20. Luke Reimer, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Mack Hansen.
Queensland Reds squad: 1. Feao Fotuaika, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Ryan Smith, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O'Connor (c), 11. Jock Campbell, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Josh Flook, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Bryce Hegarty. Replacements: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Dane Zander, 18. Zane Nonggorr, 19. Seru Uru, 20. Liam Wright, 21. Kalani Thomas, 22. Isaac Henry, 23. Filipo Daugunu.
*The Brumbies are offering a package for fans including a charter flight to and from Brisbane, a ticket to the final, and one night's accommodation. Secure your seat here.
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