A decision not to rest Cameron Smith at the World Cup is helping the Kangaroos skipper draw closer to becoming the most capped forward in Kangaroos history.
Smith is one of only a handful in Tim Sheens' squad to be selected for all three of Australia's group games. He earned his 34th international cap in this morning's clash with Ireland.
The Melbourne Storm star could play in all six of Australia's matches if, as expected, they reach the final. That would take Smith to 37 international appearances and put the hooker well on track to breaking the record, held by Petero Civoniceva with 45 caps - but 30-year-old Smith would likely overtake the prop in the next two years.
It would be another achievement in a long list for Queensland star Smith, who is already being talked up as a possible immortal in rugby league's hall of fame.
"He's one of those players that, after his career, would be pushing - dare I say - that immortal-type player," Kangaroos assistant coach David Furner said. "He's been a part of and led Queensland to those [State of Origin] victories and also, most importantly, the Australian team after Darren Lockyer.
"He's a tremendous player, probably No1 in the world in his position but it's also his on and off-field presence," said Furner, "and what he gives the young kids, that sort of experience and guidance."
While Sheens has rested Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston during the group stage, he's started Smith in all three. Smith shares games with Robbie Farah but the coaching staff feel the skipper's calming influence is crucial.
Meanwhile, Pat Richards lined up for Ireland against Australia but Furner says the winger could have easily been in the green and gold.
Richards, 33, helped Wests Tigers to the 2005 NRL premiership but has now spent seven years with Wigan in the Super League.
The switch to the UK effectively ruled him out of representative selection but Furner said there was no doubt Richards had the talent.
"I have no doubt; he can play wing and centre and picked up a Man of Steel [as Super League's player of the year in 2010]. That's a tremendous effort," Furner said of Richards, who will return to the Tigers next season.
"He obviously made an impact there and the Super League competition is a very good one because we see players who come and then go back to the NRL so that just shows you the standard."