Lealiifano misses out on Super Rugby return

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Christian Lealiifano has narrowly missed out on inclusion in the Brumbies' bench against the Reds.

Lealiifano has not played a top-flight match since being diagnosed with leukaemia in August last year, and was on the verge of being in the 23, but a hamstring niggle picked up in his final training session led the Brumbies  to take a cautious approach with the flyhalf's comeback.

The 29-year-old made his first appearance since the diagnosis in Singapore a fortnight ago, slotting five conversions in a big Brumbies win, before playing in Tuggeranong's fourth grade side with brother Lix last weekend.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has been openly ambitious about Lealiifano's return in 2017, saying at the start of the year that his captain could be in the mix for a finals berth.

Though Lealiifano is yet to play a Super Rugby game in 2017, he would be eligible to feature for the Brumbies in their knock-out quarter-final in Canberra on July 21, having been on the side's roster since the start of the year.

Tomas Cubelli has been injured against the Waratahs. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile the playmaker won't return, his 2016 halves partner Tomas Cubelli will play his first match of the year, after a preseason knee injury kept him out of the first part of the season.

Prop Ben Alexander has been named for his Brumbies games record-breaking match, facing off against the current holder in George Smith.

Reds hooker and Lealiifano's former Brumbies co-captain Stephen Moore said Lealiifano has taught teammates and opponents alike a lesson.

"I've had a lot to do with Christian and played a lot of footy with him so I know the type of character he is," he said.

"He will really lift the team, having him in and around the team again.

"It's just wonderful to see him playing out there.

It's incredible and it's a big inspiration for everyone going through tough times or ill health."

"He was always a very popular guy and a valued teammate before he got sick and the way he has fought through this has only enhanced that."

The Brumbies travel to Brisbane to take on the Reds on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

TEAM

Brumbies team to take on the Reds

IN: Scott Sio, Ben Alexander, Blake Enever, Tomas Cubelli, Andrew Smith

OUT: Nic Mayhew, Faalalei Sione, Tom Staniforth, De Wet Roos, Andy Muirhead

1. Scott Sio

2. Josh Mann-Rea

3. Allan Alaalatoa

4. Rory Arnold

5. Sam Carter (C)

6. Scott Fardy

7. Chris Alcock

8. Jordan Smiler

9. Joe Powell

10. Wharenui Hawera

11. Aidan Toua

12. Kyle Godwin

13. Tevita Kuridrani

14. Henry Speight

15. Tom Banks

Reserves

16. Robbie Abel

17. Ben Alexander

18. Leulua'iali'i-Makin

19. Blake Enever

20. Jarrad Butler

21. Tomas Cubelli

22. Nigel Ah Wong

23. Andrew Smith

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