Three caps over the threshold, Mitchell was one of only three players eligible to benefit and ultimately he and his Toulon team mate Matt Giteau were selected in Michael Cheika’s World Cup squad.
“With my decision to go to France and play, I thought this opportunity was lost,” the 31-year-old said at Australia’s training base in the United States this week.
“Even though I’ve been playing footy, I just didn’t think the third one was realistic. I’m certainly happy to be back.”
Mitchell’s test return was almost certainly helped by the wonder try he scored just a couple of weeks after the rule change to help Toulon beat Clermont Auvergne in the European Champions Cup final.
Leaving six would-be tacklers sprawled on the Twickenham turf with a combination of pace, sidestep and power, Mitchell gave Cheika a timely reminder of the finishing that had brought him 30 test tries before his departure for France.
Seven of those came in five matches at the 2007 World Cup, where Mitchell bagged braces against Japan and Canada and a hat-trick against Fiji, who Australia again face in the pool stage to open their campaign at this year’s tournament on Sept 23.
Mitchell did well to get fit for the 2011 World Cup but after adding another three tries to his tally, he took a knock against Russia and was ruled out for the rest of the tournament.
He has not been able to add another five-pointer in two matches since returning to the test arena this season but will have been happy to have made a contribution to wins over world champions New Zealand and South Africa.
Albeit split by a three-year gap, Mitchell has now been on the winning side in his last five tests, including victories over Pool A opponents England and Wales at Twickenham and the Millennium Stadium respectively in late 2012.
Mitchell’s main concern at the moment, though, is fronting up in the “intense” training sessions at Notre Dame University in Indiana to ensure he is in the frame for game time when the Wallabies get on the plane for England at the weekend.
“I guess I would like to have had a bit more (time) in the games that we have had but I think there has to be some level of belief I suppose, for me to be here,” he told Fox Sports.
“Hopefully that and what I can do at training gives me an opportunity to get a run at some point.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)