Christian Leali'ifano commits future to Australian Rugby with new two year deal

  
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5/12/2014
By ARU Media Unit


Qantas Wallabies playmaker Christian Leali'ifano becomes the third ACT Brumbies representative to re-sign with the Australian Rugby Union in the past week, signing a new two-year deal.

His signature follows the recent re-signings of provincial teammates Matt Toomua and Nic White and ensures Leali'ifano will remain in Australia beyond next year's Rugby World Cup with the talented backline star committing his future to at least the end of 2016.

Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie congratulated Leali'ifano on his new deal.

"Christian has been a consistent performer at a provincial level for a long time now so it was pleasing to see him take the step up and make an impact for the Qantas Wallabies last year," McKenzie said.

"A strong team culture is the glue for any team and in Christian's case I was personally impressed by the way he dealt with the adversity of injuries during his maiden Test campaign.  

"He was one of 12 players to debut for Australia in 2013, and as we move forward it's not unreasonable to expect the core of that group to play a significant role in the future success of our national team.

"By re-signing, Christian has shown us that he wants to continue being part of that and I'm delighted he has chosen to continue his future in Australia beyond next year's Rugby World Cup."

Leali'ifano excelled for the Qantas Wallabies in 2013, playing in 13 out of a possible 15 Tests in his debut season, scoring 124 points in the process.

He did enjoy one of the stranger international Test debuts on record, where his involvement ended just 42 seconds into the first Test of the series against The British & Irish Lions when his head made contact with Lions and Welsh centre Jonathan Davies' hip while affecting a tackle.  

While the blow could have cost him his spot for the remainder of the series, the 26-year-old recovered sufficiently to resume his role at inside centre with aplomb in the second Test.

He went on to play every minute of the remaining two Tests, also taking on the goal-kicking responsibilities, where he contributed 22 points over the series, hitting every one of his eight shots at goal sweetly to establish a Test goal-kicking record of 100% at the time.

His most crucial shot at goal came in the second Test, when he converted Adam Ashley-Cooper's 75th minute try, six metres in from touch to secure Australia's 16-15 win and tie the series.

His strong form didn't end there with Leali'ifano maintaining his stranglehold on the number 12 jersey until injury struck against Argentina in Rosario and forced him to miss Australia's third and final Bledisloe Test against New Zealand.

Toomua made the most of his good friend's misfortune to earn selection at inside centre for that match and the beginning of the Spring Tour before sustaining an injury himself.  

That allowed Leali'ifano to earn his spot in the midfield back, initially at outside centre against Scotland, before returning to his more accustomed role for Australia's final game of the tour against Wales, where he accumulated 20 individual points courtesy of one try, three conversions and three penalty goals.

Test success capped off a remarkable year for Leali'ifano, who also excelled during a Super Rugby campaign that ended with a narrow Final loss to the Chiefs.  He was one of the best on ground for the Brumbies in the Final, scoring all of their points in their 27-22 loss.