Matt Toomua made a surprise return to the Wallabies setup on Friday night, but it was the uncapped Tom Banks who delivered a compelling plea for inclusion in the Bledisloe Cup opener.
Banks was the star of a Wallabies' trial match that pitted "Cheika's Choice" squad against an Australian Super Rugby Selection oufit, the Brumbies fullback scoring one try and saving three others in the 57-12 victory.
However it was Banks' speed that made Wallabies coach Michael Cheika take notice, leaving him to ponder the flyer's inclusion for the August 18 opener.
In arguably the plays of the night, Banks tore after Moses Sorovi and Richard Hardwick to make try-saving tackles when both Super Selection players looked destined to score in the first half.
With Israel Folau and Marika Koroibete a lock at fullback and left wing respectively, Banks' inclusion would have to come at the expense of Dane Haylett-Petty; the Wallabies winger hasn't played since the Rebels' loss to the Reds in the penultimate round of Super Rugby.
A Wallabies spokesman confirmed Haylett-Petty would be fit for the ANZ Stadium clash, but five weeks on the sidelines may leave him short of a gallop.
"I think he can play on the wing without a doubt," Cheika said of Banks when asked if he would consider him across the back three.
"He's got the pace and he had a great game tonight. He's got an attitude [to do well]; he's got improvement, too, that he's got to do as well. But I think he's very willing; that goes a long way." Pressed on whether he'd done enough to be really be in the selection mix, Cheika responded: "We'll see when we pick the squad to go up to Cessnock.
"He certainly put himself up there and he had plenty of involvements and he got noticed by a lot of people, so he wouldn't have done himself any harm."
Originally thought to be unavailable until August 12, Toomua was spotted early in warm-up before taking his place at fly-half for the first 51 minutes of the match. There were some cobwebs, including a couple of wayward passes, but the former Brumbies playmaker looked generally sharp given it was his first match since April 27.
Given the Wallabies' lack of depth in the inside backs, Toomua looks guaranteed to claim one of two, or possibly three spots, on the bench after his two-and-half year deal with Melbourne Rebels was signed earlier this week.
A cagey Cheika wouldn't be drawn on how the Toomua situation had unfolded over the last 24 hours other than to say Rugby Australia "had to get the deal done". Leicester Tigers, to whom Toomua will return later this year, may not be so keen to learn of his involvement on Friday night.
Reece Hodge, enjoying a first start at No.13, was solid but had few moments in which to impress. Cheika said Waratahs centre Curtis Rona would come into the mix next week, but Hodge may just hold the upper hand to replace the injured Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kurdidrani given the former NRL player's weaknesses in defence.
In the forwards, Reds lock turned back-rower Lukhan Tui made his mark in defence, leaving a couple of Super Selection players worse for wear. Tui mixed that with some strong carries in attack also. Having started the final Test against Ireland at No.6 in June, Tui could have done little more to retain his place on the side of the scrum.
Cheika will name an extended training squad on Sunday with up to 34 players to be included. Banks is certain to be among those, leaving him a further 10 days to impress Cheika and backs coach Stephen Larkham to push for inclusion in the Wallabies' 23 for Bledisloe I.
"I'd be happy to play wherever, I do like fullback but I'm happy to play wherever he [Cheika] puts me," Banks said. "The system we play sort of promotes that second fullback...so I feel really comfortable on the wing [too].
"It's [Bledisloe debut] obviously the dream a lot of people have, but to come against them [New Zealand], there's no bigger stage. So that would be unreal."