Wallabies hero Quade Cooper paid tribute to the influence former All Blacks and NRL star Sonny Bill Williams had during his dark times in the sport after stepping up to nail a game-winning goal against South Africa in his international return.
Cooper, playing his first Test since 2017, was flawless off the kicking tee, nailing eight from eight including the game winner after the final siren on the Gold Coast on Sunday night to give the Wallabies a 28-26 win.
Coach Dave Rennie said there was "no risk" picking Cooper, 33, who was called up to the squad before the Bledisloe Cup games against the Kiwis and was finally picked after three straight Wallaby losses, and he delivered.
"We didn't think it was risk," Rennie said of picking Cooper, who hadn't played a professional game in five months.
"Based on form (in training) it was hard to leave him out.
"He'd be a young fella (at the 2023 World Cup) if he was in the Springbok team.
"Of course he could (be Wallabies No.10 at the World Cup), but we're not thinking too far ahead at this stage.
"He was excited to get an opportunity and delivered big time, and I know he's keen and available for the rest of the year."
Cooper, who had kicked seven from seven before deciding to take the final kick, said the backing of his peers, including teammate Reece Hodge, who was the other kicking option, made him comfortable taking the final shot.
"I looked up and I'd had a kick from a similar spot just before that," Cooper said.
"I only just had the legs to get it over. I looked at it, had a little chat to myself and said 'is this your ego saying you want to take the kick or what's for the benefit of the team?'
"I looked over and had a little chat to Hodgey (Reece Hodge) as well.
"He backed me, so when your peers are backing you you've got to back yourself as well."
Cooper also paid tribute to close friend Williams, who helped guide him through a dark period that included being banished to club football by Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn.
He had to go to Japan to revive his career and now is a national hero again.
"When things went a bit pear-shaped a few years ago, he was the first guy to reach out to me," Cooper said of Williams on the Channel 9 coverage.
"I spent about two-three months with him, just living with him every day and just seeing what it takes to be a good strong man every day.
"You see him with his family, see him with his teammates, the dedication, the hard work that he puts into his day-to-day life.
"Not just when he turns up to footy training, every single day it's about being a better man, being better for himself and his family and everything else."
Despite his heroics, Cooper said he had his "fingers crossed" that he would finally be granted Australian citizenship after four failed attempts.
The Wallabies will play the Springboks again this Saturday in Brisbane.