MELBOURNE - If a skinny 18-year-old can survive a debut against the fearsome Jonah Lomu, another 99 games of Super Rugby shouldn't come as a surprise.
Mark Gerrard plays his 100th game on Friday night in the unlikely colours of the Melbourne Rebels, three years after he thought he closed his rugby career in Australia when he left to play in Japan.
Rather than draw the curtain on his career, his two seasons with NTT Shining Arcs in Chiba rejuvenated the former Test utility back.
"What Japan did for me was give me the energy and urge to get back into Australian rugby," he said on Tuesday.
While he said he had always thought he might one day play rugby in Melbourne, he never thought it would be for Melbourne.
With a new belief and a new team offering him a home, Gerrard arrived at the Rebels last year to resume the Super Rugby career he started with NSW in 2001 and took to the ACT two years later.
His seven seasons at the Brumbies included the 2004 Super 12 title and his 23 Tests for the Wallabies, but Gerrard says his debut as a teenage winger for NSW against the Hurricanes in Wellington is another highlight.
As much for being able to face up to an All Black giant as for the occasion.
"My formidable opponent was Jonah Lomu," he said.
"Being in that position as an 18-year-old, I had to change my undies a few times.
"Going against someone who's 120 kilograms, I was weighing 82 kilos at the time, and straight out of school.
"I had no train of thought going through my mind. I was just running around trying to play footy."
At 29, he's in contract talks with the Rebels and believes he still has a few years left in him, inspired by his 34-year-old skipper and former Wallaby teammate Stirling Mortlock.
To complete his rejuvenation, he's even still hoping for a recall to the Test team.
"I'll definitely try to have a crack at it again this year," he said.
Gerrard brings up his century against the Bulls at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday