Dave Rennie has declared Michael Hooper an all-time "Wallaby great" as he prepares to break George Gregan's record of 59 Tests as Australia's captain.
Hooper's tenure has coincided with an average run of results by Wallabies standards and his credentials to remain leader have regularly been questioned.
But while the up and down team performances continue, that chatter has been doused this season with the openside flanker at the peak of his physical and captaincy powers.
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A stint in Japan's less physically demanding Top League has done the 29-year-old the world of good and the 'c' is sitting more comfortably beside his name.
"If people questioned his ability as a player, I'm gobsmacked," coach Rennie told reporters on Thursday ahead of Saturday's rematch with the world champion Springboks.
"If you talk to players all around the world, he's hugely respected.
"People's opinions are often reflected on the success of a team, and he's been the captain, so because the team loses and he's the skipper that responsibility is on him.
"He's a Wallaby great. If he was playing in a different era with a team full of experienced and seasoned players and you're dominating the world, you'd go down as one of the best players in the world. I still think he'll get that mantle."
"He's just so resilient. Even the other day against the All Blacks, Brodie Retallick splits him open, he gets 20 odd stitches, puts a hat on and jumps back on out there and gives the same intensity."
Nic White, Taniela Tupou and James Slipper have come into the starting side for Tate McDermott, Allan Alaalatoa and Angus Bell respectively, with Quade Cooper retained at five-eighth and a fit James O'Connor surplus to requirements.
"I've been around a while, so I've made lots of decisions over the years," Rennie said.
"It's not just what they do on a game day, it's the way they're training, the way they're preparing.
"We're not scared of making courageous decisions."
Fullback Tom Banks has held his starting spot despite suggestions from former Wallabies Chris Latham and Elton Flatley that O'Connor could oust him at 15.
"The players and coaches have got around me, they've put a lot of confidence in me and the game plan we're trying to execute is something I'm really enjoying and has come a long way," Banks said.
"You're in a Wallabies environment, everyone's competing for positions.
"James is a fantastic player, he showed what he can do in Super Rugby and there's always going to be competition for spots, so you've just got to keep performing."