Sean McMahon says an ongoing stint in Japanese rugby has "done wonders" for his body as he looks set to run out for the Wallabies for the first time in four years.
McMahon has become one of the Top League's most damaging players since the then-23-year-old departed Australia at the end of 2017, giving the Wallabies a frustrating insight into exactly what they have been missing.
But after clearing quarantine to rejoin the Wallabies last week, McMahon will likely come into consideration for the No. 6 jersey against Argentina in Townsville on Saturday night, or at the very least earn a spot on the bench.
Despite the tackle-busting back-rower's season having ended months ago, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said McMahon was already among the fittest players in the Australian group. And while he has endured a couple of injures over the last few years, the time in Japan has afforded the 23-Test back-rower the opportunity to heal a body that had taken a beating virtually since he finished school.
"Yeah, I guess it was definitely one of the mitigating factors in it, was to try and let the body recover a bit," McMahon told reporters on Monday when asked whether there were other motivators behind his switch to Japan besides the lucrative financial incentives.
"As soon as I left school, when I was 17, I went into a pretty crazy sevens program where it was thrashing the body and as soon as I got to XVs I probably got thrown into that a lot quicker than I expected, and that obviously led to international duties. So the body had copped a fair hiding by the time I got to 2017.
"But Japan's done wonders for me, for my body, definitely extended my career by a year or two, depending on how I'm playing. But I'm feeling fresh, it's been good for me up in Japan...I'm looking forward to the contact side of things back at international level to see if I'm still standing up with the big dogs."
McMahon is contracted with Suntory through to the 2023 season, after he resisted the overtures of Rugby Australia [RA] to sign an extension with the Japanese club.
Given the tweaks to the Giteau Law - which RA currently has under review - this year, McMahon's decision doesn't appear to be as big of a stumbling block to Wallabies representation as it once did.
But even he concedes the debate around what to do with overseas eligibility is a difficult one, though there is no doubt Rennie has done his best to make sure overseas Wallabies know that they haven't been forgotten.
"That's a bit high above my paygrade to be honest," McMahon said of the Giteau Law. "It's up to Rugby Australia and what they want to do in that regard, and if they want to be bringing us back that's up to them.
"As players what we're focusing on is the footy side of things and doing whatever we can if we do get that call to come back and help the cause."
While French clubs have long been known to discourage their foreign stars from turning out for their national teams, Japanese teams have seemingly taken a far more relaxed stance to some of their highest-paid assets.
McMahon's Suntory teammate, Samu Kerevi, has already made a huge impact in three Tests for the Wallabies, so too Quade Cooper who is another of the returned legion under contract in Japan.
The Top League season aligns almost perfectly with the Test calendar, which is perhaps a key consideration for RA when they look to formalise their Giteau Law changes.
"They've been happy for us to come back, they sent emails to us both saying how proud they of us they were," McMahon said. "Suntory's a very proud club, a very proud company and I think by us coming and representing our countries its showing the kind of program that they have over there in Japan.
"Suntory, it's an elite program, many good players have been through that club. So it's great to have their blessings to come back.
"Obviously it's preseason there so we are missing a little bit of that. But things that we learn from the coaches here we are able to take back and introduce to the club as well, so I think that's very beneficial to them as a club."