He is thousands of kilometres away, but Quade Cooper's shadow still hangs heavily over the Wallabies as they try to stay focused on becoming the first Australian team to win at Loftus Versfeld.
The Wallabies have had a tough time since arriving in South Africa, with numerous players and team management suffering from a stomach virus, which was followed by losing two key forwards through injury - second-rower Sitaleki Timani and hooker Stephen Moore.
Then when at last the team had got over their jet-lag, their sleep patterns were disturbed early Thursday when at 4am fire alarms blared through the corridors of their Johannesburg hotel.
On top of that has been the Cooper circus. The team say that the stream of Cooper outbursts about what's wrong with Australian rugby has not been a distraction, but it has.
The players are well aware of what Cooper has been complaining about, and while they are publicly keeping quiet on the issue, privately several have expressed how they have been upset that their teammate has appeared so eager to derail the Wallabies while they are away on a tough road trip.
They are never delighted when one dumps on their own.
The players and team management are at least relieved they are well away from Australia, where if they were preparing for a home Test it would have been nigh impossible not to get caught up in the swirl created by Cooper's string of complaints about the Australian Rugby Union and the Wallabies set-up.
On the highveld, they have been able to train and prepare well away from the chattering masses. Not too many in South Africa hold much interest in whether the Wallabies are ''toxic'' or not.
At least Cooper would be happy to know that at the two main training sessions before tonight's Test his teammates have been practising what he has been pleading for - more attacking rugby.
With Kurtley Beale taking over the playmaker role, he has shown at training that he is not eager to hide well away from the advantage line.
Beale was constantly taking the ball to the line, interspersing that with mischievous passes to his wingers and midfielders, along with running manoeuvres that compared with Cooper at the best.
Occasionally it did not come off, and some parts of the Australian training sessions this week have been scratchy - mistake-ridden at times, but when it worked, the Wallabies back line did show they were far from being bores.
The Wallabies will approach this Test with some level of uncertainty. It is far from a classic Wallabies line-up, with numerous raw players and lacking many of their most important components - in particular their leading back-rower David Pocock and game-defining halfback Will Genia. It is a team with obvious weak spots, short of experience in several key positions.
But it cannot be described as inhibited. There are quite a few who, as they are not attuned to the grim, dim Pretoria Test experience, are genuinely excited about what is ahead and that enthusiasm could easily work in the Wallabies favour.
And a lot will have to work Australia's way if they are to be victorious because while the Springboks are nowhere near their best, they are so dangerous when irritable. The Springboks are certainly snarly.
The public pressure on the Springboks to perform was on show at their team announcement during the week. As the team manager Ian Schwartz slowly said who was in the Test line-up, coach Heyneke Meyer stared at the ceiling, sighed several times and generally looked uncomfortable - not surprising as he had just dropped one of his favourite players, Morne Steyn.
Meyer then emphasised the stresses of the job and the difficulties of juggling selections. ''I'm really passionate about the Springboks and my country.
It feels for me sometimes that I have to make life and death decisions. I know it's only a game. But I've said to the guys, when you play for South Africa, it's almost more important than life and death,'' Meyer said.
Somewhat over the top, but a sure sign that the Springboks will run onto Loftus wanting to maim the Wallabies, in particular their latest No.10.
And if the Wallabies are to achieve their sixth straight victory over the Springboks, and their first in Pretoria, it will depend heavily on Beale and how well he combines with his Rebels teammate and halfback Nick Phipps.
If this new Wallabies halves combination stands up to the South African onslaught, the Wallabies are a big chance of a historic victory. If not, it could be a mess. Toxic, even.
- Sydney Morning Herald