McGuire's journey to the top
Brisbane Broncos prop Josh McGuire's selection in the Australian Kangaroos side is a remarkable feat considering the 26-year-old snapped his Achilles' tendon just 10 months ago.
The shocking injury occurred in Brisbane's 44-22 Round 16 defeat of the Newcastle Knights in 2015 – ending his season abruptly.
In what was a bitter pill to swallow for the Aspley Devils junior, McGuire missed the State of Origin decider and the Broncos' grand final run – a cruel blow to what was shaping up to be his best season in the NRL.
A testament to the character of McGuire, his stellar return from injury in 2016 has seen Australian coach Mal Meninga reward him with a position on the bench for the Kangaroos.
It was a long road to recovery and McGuire has opened up on the struggles he faced coming back from a potentially career-ending injury.
"The rehab was very hard. It was hard doing it because I missed out on Origin and a grand final," McGuire said.
"My wife, family and the club were all fantastic to me. I set new goals and focused on the opportunities ahead and I've been lucky enough to come back this year and play some good footy.
"There was always hope that it was going to be a smooth recovery, but there were days there where I didn't feel like it was healing as quick as it should have been. In saying that, I did have some days where I felt really good.
"The days like the grand final and Origin III were really hard for me. Watching the boys have success and knowing that I couldn't contribute was hard.
"You sit at home and watch footy on the TV and sit there wishing you were there."
McGuire says he now fully appreciates every opportunity football has given him and he plans on making the most of his second chance.
"I'm really enjoying my footy a lot more this year. I probably took it for granted before the injury," he said.
"I look forward to every game and I'm really relishing being out there and playing with my mates.
"It makes you appreciate it so much more when all that is taken away from you and you don't know if you'll ever come back."
In a scary sign for opposition teams, McGuire's Achilles is not yet completely healed and the Brisbane workhorse only expects to get better as his body comes back to full fitness.
"I think it takes two years for the Achilles to be 100 per cent healed. I'm back at a level where I'm confident with it and my footy is a reflection of that," he said.
"I'm in decent form and I don't worry about it anymore, which is great. It was tough to go through but life goes on and I'm back playing footy."
Brisbane assistant coach Stephen Kearney was quick to praise McGuire's work ethic, impressed with how quickly he has returned to form.
Kearney will soon be McGuire's foe, with the experienced coach doubling as the head coach of the New Zealand national rugby league team.
On May 6th he will have to try and stop McGuire and the rest of the Kangaroos side, with the Kiwis travelling to Newcastle to face the Australia in the Downer Trans-Tasman test match at Hunter Stadium.
"As an opposing coach next week I'm not so pleased about it but we've got some pretty handy front-rowers that I am sure will get selected for the Kiwi team also," Kearney said of McGuire's selection.
"I'm really pleased for him. After last year he did an Achilles tendon injury which is always pretty tough to come back from and he's worked extremely hard and the form he has been in over the last month, he has been one of the form props in the competition.
"It wasn't a surprise to see him picked because I think he's been going fantastic. I'm really pleased for him."