Lealiifano back without the kicks
Tue, 25 Mar 2014 07:34
Looks fitter than he has for a while
Brumbies inside centre Christian Lealiifano will return from an ankle injury against the Rebels, but doesn't want the goal kicking duties just yet.
Lealiifano had surgery on his ankle late last year and is now ready to return to action.
However, Australian rugby's first choice post-splitter wants scrumhalf Nic White to retain the kicking resposibilities for the Brumbies when he returns to Super Rugby in Melbourne on Friday.
The Wallabies and Brumbies sharpshooter says he doesn't want to take any chances while his right ankle completely rehabilitates from a second round of surgery in as many years.
"I probably wouldn't mind Whitey to keep going," the right-footed Lealiifano told AAP.
"Not only just to give my ankle a bit of a break ... but [I am] just trying to get rhythm again."
White isn't as accurate as Lealiifano, who nailed an incredible 88 per cent of his penalty goal attempts in Super Rugby last year.
The 13-cap Wallaby outkicked Bulls superboot Morne Steyn to lift the Brumbies to an historic semifinal win in Pretoria in 2013, and that was just a month after his match-winning conversion in the second Test match against the British and Irish Lions in Melbourne.
However he said goal-kicking put extra stress on his ankle last year, which he initially broke in 2012, and he was keen to see how things developed during his second comeback before reclaiming the goal kicking responsibility.
While this Friday will be Lealiifano's first Super Rugby match back, he was eased back into rugby last week in the Canberra club competition.
It's still unclear whether he'll make his return starting at No.12 or from the bench behind in form hardman Pat McCabe, but either way, flyhalf Matt Toomua said he was excited to rekindle their playmaking partnership that steered the Brumbies to last year's Super Rugby final.
"He looks fitter than he has for a while," Toomua said.
"He didn't complain too much last year, but he was labouring on that ankle a lot."
Toomua also joked about his friendly rivalry with Lealiifano, as both shone in the No.10 jersey for the Brumbies in 2012 as well as at inside centre for the Wallabies late last year.
"As long as he's coming back as a 12, I'm very excited.
"It's good to see him running freely, and it will be good to be playing next to him and not behind him," Toomua added.
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