Quade Cooper will officially test his reconstructed knee for the first time on Saturday - but a desperate airport dash has already seen the Wallabies playmaker take a significant leap forward on the comeback trail.
Instincts took over on Thursday morning when Cooper was forced to rush to make his flight from Brisbane to Cairns with the Queensland Reds.
With the final call announcement ringing through the public address system, the enigmatic five-eighth raced 500m from one end of the airport to the other.
"They said the plane was going to leave without us so we had to run for the gate," Cooper told AAP on Friday.
"I started running and I thought 'I'm not supposed to run', so then I started walking but we kept getting calls over the speaker: 'This is the last call' and we were right down the other end (of the airport).
"I jumped on the plane and I told the physio 'I've had my first run, and my knee feels good'!"
It was Cooper's first run since he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the bronze play-off in a disappointing finish to the Rugby World Cup in October.
The problem-free airport scramble, alongside potential No.10 replacement Mike Harris, has him on track for a potential round-seven comeback against the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on April 6.
It also has Cooper excited for the solo run in Cairns on Saturday, hours before the Reds have their first pre-season hit-out of 2012 against the Brumbies at Barlow Park.
"I'm really looking forward to it," the 23-year-old said. "I do I know that little jog through the airport would have helped.
"It's a big tick on the comeback trail for me - the end of basically all the hard little work you need to do to get the knee into a position to run."
A trim Cooper said he'd "flown through" his rehab compared to five seasons ago when his weight blew out to 100kg, feeding a belief he'll be able to slot straight back into action for the Reds.
As well as meeting his fitness goals, the 35-Test first five-eighths has been busy assisting five-eighth trialists Harris and Ben Lucas at Ballymore.
"He's been a great help - you can't keep him away from the place," Lucas said.