Jake White has deliberately revealed early that Clyde Rathbone will make a fairytale Brumbies return on Saturday night to trigger a 20,000-plus crowd attendance at Canberra Stadium.
Coach White on Monday challenged ACT sports fans to help the Brumbies return to their Super Rugby glory days by packing out their home ground against the Queensland Reds.
Rathbone had been locked in a selection battle with incumbent wingers Joe Tomane and Henry Speight, both stars of their 2012 campaign, but has gained the starting nod for round one.
White admitted he announced the former Wallaby's return from a three-year retirement, where he battled depression and weight gain, to hype up the clash with the 2012 Australian conference winners.
Despite being a major success-story last season, the Brumbies struggled to win back fans as they attracted an average crowd of 14,500 - well off the 23,000 average of 2004 when they won the last of their two titles.
Rathbone, a South African Under-21 captain under White, was in his first full season of Super Rugby then and went on to play the first of his 26 Tests that year.
Three tries in two pre-season trials was enough for White to usher him straight back onto the wing for his 50th Brumbies cap - denying sentiment had any part to play.
'I think he's done enough to select himself ... one thing I'm looking for is an old player coming back hopefully to old ways in Canberra where there's 20,000 supporters,' the coach said.
'In a lot of ways we're really getting the hype up and hoping that we can challenge the supporters in Canberra and see if we can get back to those old days.
'A lot of people say if you win they'll come ... that's easy to say.
'Hopefully (Rathbone's return) will be an instigator to getting back the crowds.'
White, to name the rest of his team later this week, also sent out a Twitter post after his press conference saying Rathbone's selection should attract more than 20,000 to the game.
Both nervous and excited about his return, the 31-year-old admitted it was hard to fathom two months ago during pre-season training.
'Personally it's going to be a big occasion, but I think for us as a group leading into the rest of the year this is a massive game,' Rathbone said.
'It's important that we start well and make a statement.'
White was South African under-21 coach when Rathbone captained his former nation to the Junior World Cup in 2002, and the former Springboks mentor said the three-quarter had proved he remained a 'winner'.
'I'm hoping the influence he has both off the field and on the field will be there this year in terms of making our team winners,' he said.
The Reds may well be without captain James Horwill who failed to train on Monday afternoon due to an ankle injury.