Michael Cheika says Christian Lealiifano's backstory is inspirational but it was cold, hard Super Rugby form that has won him a Wallabies recall.
Cancer survivor Lealiifano is in line for his first Test in more than three years when Australia open their Rugby Championship campaign against South Africa this month after being named in Cheika's first 34-man squad of the year.
The recall comes at the expense of Quade Cooper, who is among a clutch of notable omissions who face an uphill battle to win selection for the World Cup in 11 weeks' time.
Halfback Nick Phipps and utility forward Ned Hanigan have seemingly paid the price for the NSW Waratahs' struggles while injury has at least initially shut out David Pocock, Adam Coleman, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pete Samu and Jordan Petaia.
Brumbies captain Lealiifano played the last of his 19 internationals in mid-2016, soon before he was diagnosed with leukaemia which sidelined him for 12 months.
A gradual recovery transpired in a return to his best form this season as the 31-year-old steered the Brumbies to the Super Rugby semi-finals.
Cheika says he is at a level to contend for a starting spot against the Springboks in Johannesburg on July 21.
"I'm not the expert to speak on what he's been through, because only he knows that and his family," Cheika said.
"Obviously from a coaching point of view, what you can't deny is his form in Super Rugby at the end of the day.
"You take out all the other things because we know what he's achieved in his life. You just take all that away and he's been playing good and he deserves to be there."
Lealiifano and Bernard Foley are the specialist five-eighths while Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua are other playmaking options.
Seventy-Test veteran Cooper was sharp for the Melbourne Rebels soon after his publicised shift from the Queensland Reds.
He was involved in a Wallabies camp in Brisbane this week but fluctuating form over the last two months may have sealed the 31-year-old's fate.
The three uncapped players are all loose forwards - Melbourne powerhouse Isi Naisarani and young flankers Liam Wright, 21, and Rob Valetini, 20.
Among those to benefit from the Brumbies' late-season charge to the Australian Conference title was four-Test halfback Joe Powell, named ahead of veteran No.9 Phipps, while seasoned halfback Nic White is recalled after a four-year stint in Europe.
James O'Connor was invited to the Wallabies camp, also after a long absence from Australia, but wasn't named to travel to South Africa on Sunday.
O'Connor is set to announce a return to Super Rugby next year, reportedly with Queensland.
Cheika said the current squad members "have their nose in front" in the race for World Cup berths but wouldn't close the door on anybody.
The injured group in particular all boast strong credentials if they can prove their fitness, he said.
Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga'a, Michael Hooper, Luke Jones, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese, Rob Valentini, Liam Wright.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Jack Maddocks, Joe Powell, Matt Toomua, Nic White.