Lealiifano on Wallabies radar after firing up Brumbies

    2019-02-24 08:41

    Canberra - The Brumbies were revelling in their best win in years on Sunday after inspirational cancer survivor Christian Lealiifano put himself on the Wallabies radar ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

    The Canberra-based Super Rugby team crushed the Chiefs 54-17 to bounce back from an opening round loss to the Melbourne Rebels.

    It was an emphatic performance from a side missing star flank David Pocock, who sat out the game following a concussion the previous weekend.

    They ran in eight tries to two for the highest score against a New Zealand side since 2016, when the Brumbies shocked the Hurricanes in the opening round.

    While it was the forward play that provided the platform, the link work of flyhalf Lealiifano opened up space in what was hailed by pundits as his best performance since his return from a cancer battle.

    He also kicked five conversions.

    "I don't want to embarrass him, but he's in good shape," Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said of his skipper Lealiifano, adding that he had worked hard to return to an elite level.

    "He came back from Japan fit and sharp and his running game was outstanding and that's always been his strength."

    A modest Lealiifano, who played last year for Japanese Top League team Toyota Shokki, played down his impact on Saturday's game.

    "You're a lot quicker when you're on the front foot so the platform the forwards set was nice," said the 31-year-old, who admitted last month he wanted to again pull on an Australian jersey.

    Lealiifano, who has played 19 Tests for the Wallabies, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016. He had a successful bone marrow transplant and entered remission in 2017.

    McKellar said he couldn't find anything to fault from his team's performance against the Chiefs, who have now lost two out of two.

    "I can't complain about anything," he said. "I thought everyone contributed really well.

    "After game one, we copped a bit of flak about being a team that can only score tries off mauls and the difference was we took our opportunities when we did go wide and really pleased for some of the guys that got their first chance in a while."

    Chance Peni and Tevita Kuridrani both collected two tries with Tom Banks, Lachlan McCaffrey, Folau Fainga'a and Josh Mann-Rea getting one each.

    They next meet the Hurricanes in Palmerston North on Friday.

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