Watching prop Matt Scott play his heart out through a neck injury for the Cowboys this year inspired Test prop Jordan McLean to return early from his own broken foot.
McLean, a member of the 2017 World Cup-winning side, missed four months of the year with a Lisfranc fracture in his foot suffered in round four and there were initial fears he could miss the entire season.
The 27-year-old left no stone unturned in his quest to return to the paddock and said veteran Scott, who has undergone surgery on his own injury, had driven him to make the most of the six weeks of action he saw at the back end of the year.
"Matt played a fair bit of the season injured and to see how tough he is when he goes about his business, and never complains at all and gets out there and gets his job done, is something I have taken away from watching him," McLean said.
"It's kind of borderline stupid or brave, but that's what he is about. He is very tough. I am very lucky to play alongside him. I have definitely taken a few things away from playing with him."
McLean, who will line up against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday, said he felt fortunate to be in the Australian team after only playing 10 NRL games in 2018. His return to the Mal Meninga-coached side is down to his own commitment off the field and the impressive way he finished the season for North Queensland.
"At the start it (the injury) was meant to be a lot longer. It was the first time I have done my Lisfranc and it is a kind of touch and go injury where you don't know how it is going to end up until you get the screws out then start running on it," McLean said.
"Lucklily it came along pretty quick and I did a fair few extras inside on the bike with (sport scientist) Ash Graham up there.
"Missing that much football, mentally you are pretty fresh and physically I feel fine. Luckily enough I finished the season well and that put me in good stead for these couple of games.
"I was just trying to get back on the field and do my best for the Cowboys. That it led to a Kangaroos jumper is a plus on top. I feel very lucky and humbled to be part of the green and gold again."
McLean had a strong hitout in the Prime Minister's XIII's win in Port Moresby, a clash which featured a pitch invasion by passionate fans.
"It was something to do with a light pole. Someone thought it was falling down, so they piled onto the field," McLean grinned.
"It was pretty funny. A few of the boys were a bit spooked and started running. They just show a lot of passion over there and they like to be up close and personal with their heroes. It was sorted pretty quick and we got a bit of a rest."
Players react to PNG field invasion