Lealiifano load a week-by-week proposition

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Christian Lealiifano is having a rest this week and it might not be his only week on the sideline, after a big workload in recent months.

Lealiifano has been rested from this Sunday’s Jaguares clash and McKellar said it might not be the only match he misses, as the club looks to ensure he doesn’t burn out.

The playmaker played four months with Irish side Ulster before returning to Brumbies preseason at the start of 2018 and has featured in every one of their Super Rugby matches, playing the full 80 in three of those.

The Brumbies host the Crusaders and Rebels in the next three weeks, with a bye in between, before a big trip to South Africa, one that McKellar wants Lealiifano to be fresh for.

“We'll just do this week and then see, it may be a couple of weeks,” he said.

“I just want to freshen him up. He didn't get any preseason time, no S&C time - a week or two with (strength and conditioning coach) Ben Serpell will do him the world of good and finish the season well.”

“You mentioned Africa and all of those things and playing in Joburg and Pretoria, so it's going to be a testing period, so I thought now was the right time (to rest him).”

McKellar said they wouldn’t be making a definitive call as to Lealiifano’s availability just yet.

“We have those conversations are ongoing and you put plans in place but at times in the background, those pans change but really comfortable with the decision we've made for this week.”

Lealiifano will be replaced by Kyle Godwin at 12, and McKellar said he had faith in the Ireland-bound centre to step up.

“Obviously Christian's having a spell but (there’s) just the belief and confidence we've got in the boys that will do the job without him there,” he said.

“(Wharenui Hawera) has been playing well and Kyle was excellent at the start of the year, we just made a change just from a team point of view and he's shown some good signs off the bench.

“It's exciting what those two will do this week.”

Lealiifano isn’t the only player being given extra recovery time, with Richie Arnold and Blake Enever both sitting out in recent weeks due to niggles.

Their omissions have opened the door for rookie Darcy Swain to come into the 23 for the first time, after moving down from Queensland as a teenager.

“(He’s) physical, no nonsense, very good set piece for a young player, excellent knowledge around lineout and I think he's got huge development in his game in general play,” he said.

“ He's got good agility for a big man and can potentially be a six down the track but I think at the moment, what I like about darcy is he does the bread and butter of a lock's role really well.

“Set piece, physicality, that's what you want to see.”

The Brumbies host the Jaguares on Sunday afternoon at GIO Stadium, kicking off at 4:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.