Lealiifano praises new centres

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Christian Lealiifano has backed Michael Cheika's decision to field a new centre combination against England in last weekend's Test.

Lealiifano joined camp on Wednesday last week, overlooked for a starting spot but praised the move to play both Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani in a monster midfield combination.

“I thought they went really, really well,” he said.

“It was difficult with the limited ball they had, but I thought Samu and Tevita were very dangerous when they had the ball and the opportunity to run.

"We know the quality of player they are. With a bit more ball hopefully they can do a bit more damage."

Samu Kerevi made his Wallabies debut at inside centre against England. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

There will be more options for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in the inside backs this week, with Lealiifano and Brumbies teammate Matt Toomua joining the squad, adding depth to their playmaker stocks.

Lealiifano said he wasn’t being distracted by selection battles so early in the week.

“That's not really my place to talk... All we can do as a playing group is just get our game right,” he said.

“Whatever players are in there, the team has full confidence in their ability.  We're confident with whatever.”

The 28-year-old said he was expecting England to improve from the opening Test

“We spoke and watched their preparations before the Six Nations and even their game against Wales before they came in,” he said.

“They're a quality outfit and they showed that again.

Matt Toomua has joined the Wallabies squad after recovering from injury. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

“We've just got to focus on us and be better. They'll be stronger again. It'll make for a good contest on Saturday.”

It’s been a hectic week for Lealiifano, whose partner gave birth to their first son, Jeremih, before he joined camp but the Brumbies flyhalf is feeling far more settled this week.

“It's been a massive whirlwind but a really exciting and special time as well,” he said.

“To welcome my son into the world was fantastic but at the same time, waiting around while the boys were training and working hard made me feel a little bit uncomfortable about it, knowing the work the boys were doing.

“I'm super grateful they gave me the opportunity to stay at home.”