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Brumbies combine for Wallabies charge

Date

David Polkinghorne

Christian Lealiifano after his horror ankle injury in 2012.

Christian Lealiifano after his horror ankle injury in 2012. Photo: Graham Tidy

A ''hungry'' ACT Brumbies five-eighth Christian Lealiifano got his first taste of life as a Wallaby since last year's horrific ankle injury at a photo camp in Sydney on Monday.

And he'll get his first chance to stake his claim for the Wallabies' No. 10 jersey in round one of the Super Rugby season against Quade Cooper and the Queensland Reds.

Lealiifano was one of seven Brumbies on the one-day camp, along with fellow vice-captains David Pocock and Stephen Moore, Nic White, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe and Dan Palmer to take part in photo shoots and TV commercials.

They will return in time for Brumbies training on Tuesday.

Lealiifano looked set to get his maiden Test cap against Scotland last year when he fractured and dislocated his ankle against the Waratahs at Canberra Stadium in May.

The 25-year-old was having such a good season he finished equal second in the Australian Super Rugby player-of-the-year award despite playing only 10 games.

And ACT scrumhalf White said his vice-captain was determined to come back from ankle and shoulder surgery an even better player in 2013.

''He's had a bit of time off but that's only made him hungrier, especially for this Wallaby jersey, and I think you'll see Christian firing again in 2013,'' he said.

To get his first Wallabies cap Lealiifano might need to displace the enigmatic Cooper.

With Queensland Reds scrumhalf Will Genia out with a knee injury, the chance is also there for White to establish himself in the Wallabies team.

If all the stars are aligned the No. 9, 10 and 12 jerseys could be in the hands of the Brumbies - which hasn't occurred since George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Matt Giteau played together in the 2007 World Cup.

White said he'd love to play for his country alongside Lealiifano and McCabe.

''It does help having a combination with your state and I know I'd feel a lot more comfortable making a debut with Christian outside me,'' he said.

''I know Christian would feel very comfortable there knowing inside and outside him there are blokes he's played with before.''

But White's main focus is getting ready for the Brumbies' pre-season games.

A shoulder reconstruction ended his chances of the Wallabies' spring tour of Europe and his jaw was fractured from a king hit at Canberra's Foreshore music festival.

White has returned to full contact training and was confident he'd be ready for the Super Rugby season.

He has extra competition for his starting spot, with both Ian Prior and Mark Swanepoel trying to pinch the No. 9 jersey from him.

''I'm just getting over the shoulder now, did contact [work] last week and should be ready to fire for the trials, just looking forward to the season,'' he said.

The Brumbies have two trial games - against the Western Force in Darwin on February 1 and then against an ACT XV in Canberra the following week. Their season starts against the Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 16.

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