Late-blooming Wallabies forward Ben Mowen's amazing ride just gets better.
After playing just five tests in his debut season of test rugby, the 28-year-old has been named Australia's vice-captain for tonight's Rugby Championship clash with South Africa.
A costly hamstring injury to skipper James Horwill has seen Will Genia given the captaincy for the Brisbane encounter and Mowen promoted as deputy.
The No8, who had consistently been overlooked by former coach Robbie Deans until this season, rates it an even bigger honour than gaining his first test cap.
"It's the proudest moment of my rugby career for sure," Mowen said. "I feel extremely privileged to be a part of this group, and then to get a responsibility like vice-captain it means the world to me."
Virtually unwanted by the Waratahs two seasons ago when they signed Rocky Elsom from the Brumbies, Mowen's move to Canberra was the trigger for his rapid rise this year.
Brumbies coach Jake White stunned all and sundry when he named the recruit captain ahead of Wallabies front-rowers Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander before he'd made his Brumbies debut.
"It was a massive [surprise]," Mowen said. "I wasn't expecting that at all and it's a similar feeling to the one I have at the moment.
"It's amazing when I look back at that decision [to leave NSW].
"Sometimes you just have to move out of your comfort zone and back yourself."
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie also saw Mowen's leadership attributes early on when he named him captain for his Waratahs debut in a trial against Queensland in 2008.
McKenzie said the Brisbane product's captaincy experience, intellect and complementary personality to Genia led to his promotion.
The Wallabies are aiming to keep intact their unbeaten record against the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium and also end the visitors' current nine-test winning streak.