Christian Leali'ifano targets Waratahs return
January 16, 2014
Christian Leali'ifano is happy with his progress back to rugby © Getty Images
Christian Leali'ifano has earmarked the Brumbies' Super Rugby round-five fixture against New South Wales Waratahs on March 15 for his return to action.
Leali'ifano is recovering from the ankle surgery he underwent in December after his break-out season in which he made his international debut in the opening Test against the British & Irish Lions in Brisbane. His debut lasted just 42 seconds, as he was carried off after being knocked out when attempting to tackle Jonathan Davies, but he bounced back to play 13 Tests before the surgery to cure a long-term ankle problem.
"Everything is on track," Leali'ifano said on Thursday, noting he was due to lose the moonboot on Monday. "It's been frustrating, I've been on crutches for a while and I'm itching to get out."
He first broke the injured ankle midway through 2012, and he battled through last season to play with niggles.
"You think you'd get some kind of warranty on these kind of things," Leali'ifano joked. "All the nurses [in December] were like: 'Oh you're back again!'"
Leali'ifano conceded he could delay his return until round seven, when the Brumbies play Melbourne Rebels, if he wished to take a cautious approach, but Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher said the Waratahs match was a very realistic possibility.
"That will be the aim," Fisher said. "He's very important in our structures."
Pat McCabe, South African recruit Lionel Cronje, Andrew Smith and, perhaps, Japanese import Harumichi Tatekawa, meanwhile, will battle for the No.12 jersey.
"Some people have it from day one and Brian did." Tom Hamilton talks to the two players who made their Ireland debuts alongside Brian O'Driscoll back in June 1999
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column