Brumbies playmaker not ready for June Tests
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano's one-month enforced rest has prepared him well for the Rebels, however not quite ready for the June Test series.
The 30-year-old will play his first game in a month when he leads the Brumbies out against the Rebels on Saturday, having missed their last two starts.
The playmaker has allowed himself to rest after a life-threatening fight with leukaemia.
Speaking at the Brumbies' captain's run on Friday, the skipper revealed details of a chat with specialists which put his recovery from leukaemia into context.
"When I stepped back and looked at my health and saw the specialists a bit more, they [made me] a bit more cautious of being aware of when I will be tired and understanding that I will be," Lealiifano said.
"I'm on a one-year-old blood system running around in a 30-year-old's body and trying to play at a high level.
"Once they gave that to me in that context, it made me realise I need to look after my body a little bit more.
"Definitely the last month - the last three or four weeks - have been really good.
"I've been able to work on my health and I'm really glad we have done that."
Lealiifano didn't have any planned rest periods in the back of his mind prior to that discussion but did feel flat prior to his last match, against the Highlanders.
"I was feeling alright and took a bit of a downward turn," he said.
"I was feeling a bit flat throughout training and a bit more tired than usual.
"We just had to find a time somewhere and as hard as it was with where the team was sitting, I think it was a big decision from Dan to give me a break.
"But they've given me time to refresh and now I'm feeling really, really good for it."
Now that he's had a month away from the group, the 30-year-old is itching to help guide the Brumbies back to the winner's circle in what is nearing must-win territory against the Rebels.
"When you get back in you're full of excitement and that's one thing I said from the start - you have to always enjoy each day," he said.
"We understand how important this game is for us, as a group.
"As exciting and as frustrating as (the absence) was it's really exciting to get out here for a big clash.
"They're the ones you want to be a part of."
But Lealiifano won't be adding to his 19 matches for the Wallabies when they host Ireland in three tests, although he conceded he still has aspirations to represent Australia when the time is right.
"I think it's [the June tests] a stretch too far," Lealiifano said.
"Coming back and playing here [for the Brumbies] has been a bonus for me already and I wouldn't quite put myself in a position to say I'm close to getting picked,"