The Wallabies will unleash their 11th debutant this season when they take on Argentina at Twickenham, with bruising forward Leroy Houston ending an 11-year wait with an emotional call-up.
The specialist No.8 made his first Wallabies tour in 2005 as a bright-eyed 18-year-old but failed to earn a Test cap – with his only green and gold appearance on that tour a non-cap game.
He came close to winning the starting role for Saturday’s clash, but lost out to the versatile Lopeti Timani.
However, he made the final cut on Friday when coach Michael Cheika finalised his bench for the Rugby Championship clash at Twickenham and left out Rebels outside back Sefa Naivulu.
It caps an impressive journey of perseverance for Houston, who since 2011 has been plying his trade throughout Europe and forging a fearsome reputation for English Premiership side Bath in the past four years.
The 29-year-old recently returned to Bath on loan having returned to Australia this year to reignite his chances of a maiden Wallabies cap.
On arrival in London this week, having been a late call-up following the ankle injury suffered by Sean McMahon, Houston quickly went about leaving his mark – literally.
He apologised to teammates before their first session, warning them that he wouldn’t be holding back and that he was sorry for the bruises he was about to leave.
“(Houston’s) an excellent ball player, ball carrier and he puts his heart and soul into it as well,” Cheika said earlier this week.
Play-making halfback Will Genia added: “He’s buzzing. He’s excited to be training.
“He’s been here before and got so close and missed out (in 2005). Hopefully, if he works hard enough he gets an opportunity because he’s someone I know who’ll take it if he does.”
His selection continues a determination from Cheika to blood new talent and broaden the Wallabies’ player depth in all positions – as evidenced by the six rookies in the starting side on Saturday night, and 22-year-old props Tom Robertson and Allan Alaalatoa on the bench alongside Houston.