Christian Lealiifano ready to face Lions
June 28, 2013
Christian Lealiifano is ready to make an impact © Getty Images
The Wallabies hope Christian Lealiifano's second Test against the British & Irish Lions is memorable for the right reasons after lasting only 45 seconds on debut, as the first-minute loss of the inside centre caused a huge disruption to Australia's backline in the first Tom Richards Cup Test at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The Brumbies playmaker said he could have returned to the pitch but he failed a test as part of the medical staff's protocol in treating players with head injuries. He says he has now shrugged off the effects of his head knock and wants to take over the Wallabies' goal-kicking duties. "I remember most things," he said.
"The hardest thing was the doctors asking me the score from the Waratahs-Lions game a week before, and I struggle to remember that now. They quickly ruled me out from going back on. I remember watching the boys and soaking up the atmosphere. I will still feel the same kinds of nerves this week but will hopefully get more than 45 seconds."
Lealiifano's absence was felt in areas other than goal-kicking in Brisbane, however, as his loss saw the Wallabies fail to exploit fully the talents of Israel Folau even though the powerhouse winger scored two tries on debut. The No.12 was set to act as the pivotal backline figure, and his absence saw five-eighth James O'Connor struggling to cope under the extra pressure.
Christian Lealiifano's Test debut was memorable for the wrong reasons © Getty Images
Adam Ashley-Cooper said Lealiifano's presence gave the backline more potency. "Christian not only has the capability of ball running but ball playing, and that's really unique for an inside centre," Ashley-Cooper said. "It will be nice to get the ball to the likes of Izzy and Joey [Tomane] on the edges; there's a lot of areas to be excited about. We have a lot of potency in the backline, we've just got to use it."