Simon Shaw is ready for the launch of mission improbable on Saturday after completing a 12-year journey into the British and Irish Lions Test team.
Shaw, believed to be the oldest Lions Test debutant at 35, will beef up a front five which contains just two survivors from the one beasted by Springboks scrum destroyer Tendai Mtawarira last weekend.
Only skipper Paul O’Connell and prop Gethin Jenkins remain as the tourists look to maintain Ian McGeechan’s 100% record as Lions head coach of second Test victories - 1989, 1993 and 1997.
The Lions though, have never won a series after going 1-0 down against South Africa, while defeat in Pretoria this weekend would make it a record seven successive Test defeats on tour, stretching back to 2001.
England lock Shaw apart, McGeechan has summoned Ireland backs Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald, together with Wales front-row forwards Matthew Rees and Adam Jones.
Full-back Kearney, one of a post-war record seven Irishmen selected, replaces thumb injury victim Lee Byrne, who will play no further part on tour and is due to head home early after being hurt during training today.
Fitzgerald, 21, ousts England wing Ugo Monye after the Harlequins speedster blew two gilt-edged try chances during the 26-21 first Test defeat in Durban - blunders that mean he pays with his place.
Ospreys tighthead Jones now has the giant task of keeping Mtawarira quiet - a job way too taxing for England World Cup winner Phil Vickery five days ago - and Rees takes over from Lee Mears.
It is the first time the Lions have started an official Test match with an all-Wales front row since 1955.
Elsewhere, Shaw is in for Alun-Wyn Jones, who drops to the bench, but Monye, Vickery and Mears all miss out on the match-day 22.
Shaw first toured with the Lions in South Africa 12 years ago, since when he has taken his England cap tally past 50, been part of two World Cup campaigns, landed numerous trophies at Wasps and made more than 200 Premiership appearances.
He has clocked up 16 Lions appearances over three tours in 1997, 2005 and 2009, and Shaw admitted: “It has been a hell of a journey.
“A hell of a lot of hard work has gone into it. When I got told yesterday evening, I was struggling not to smile for the entire evening. I’ve been on the other side so many times.
“I’ve had to reassure myself every year. Every time I’ve had a knock-back, you have to build yourself up and keep believing in yourself.
“You will always get the support of your family and friends, but unfortunately, they are not the people that select you.
“I’ve learnt over the years to keep plugging away and sticking at it. You just never know when the opportunity might come - you keep yourself going, no matter what.”