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Christian Lealiifano heads back to the Canberra Vikings to push his claims for Wallabies recall

Setting sail: Christian Lealiifano will use his time with the Canberra Vikings to press his Wallabies claims.

Setting sail: Christian Lealiifano will use his time with the Canberra Vikings to press his Wallabies claims. Photo: Graham Tidy

From the Wallabies to the Canberra Vikings. Christian Lealiifano will use his National Rugby Championship cameo to show Test coach Ewen McKenzie he is ready to be injected back into the international arena.

But after a frustrating Super Rugby campaign, the ACT Brumbiesstar has vowed not to  get "bogged down" by potential Wallabies selection and his only focus was to enjoy rugby.

Lealiifano will rub shoulders with part-time players who have put their careers as tradies, teachers and public servants on hold to play for the Vikings in their inaugural NRC match against the Perth Spirit on Saturday.

Viking Park is a long way from the Test arena as the Wallabies attempt to end a 28-year hoodoo against the All Blacks at Eden Park, Auckland, but it's also the perfect launching pad for Lealiifano to get game time.

And the key to recapturing his best form is simple: "I'm not going to overplay my hand. I'm not going to push too much, all I can do is enjoy my footy.

"A lot of people get bogged down on missing out on [Wallabies] selection, but you've got to put it into perspective and enjoy what you're doing.

"It's frustrating when you're injured; my year was stop-start and it's easy to get sad ... if you miss out. But I'm taking a positive perspective and just enjoy it.

"I'm not going to take it for granted. There are guys like [David Pocock], Siliva Siliva and Steve Moore who are injured and can't get out there, so I'm really excited to play."

Lealiifano is the only survivor from the Vikings' former existence in the defunct Australian Rugby Championship in 2007.

The ARC lost almost $5 million in its only season, but the third-tier format has been reinvented under the NRC banner. Lealiifano said Australian rugby needed it to succeed.

In just one season, the ARC produced more than 70 Super Rugby players and more than 30 future Wallabies.

Lealiifano believes the NRC can have the same effect and will be bolstered by fringe Wallabies trying to win a place in McKenzie's Test squad.

"I felt like the ARC was a massive stepping stone in my career ... it didn't work out but I'm excited to have it back," he said.

"I think we've missed it Wallabies guys come back to play some rugby again. It's going to be positive for all the boys trying to push for a spot in the Test team.

"It's a chance to get some touches, get some rhythm and work out the lungs and testing your skills under pressure."

Lealiifano trained with the Vikings for the first time on Thursday night after being released from Wallabies camp.

A year ago he was considered the best goalkicker in Australian rugby and had all but cemented his place as McKenzie's inside-centre.

But Brumbies teammate Matt Toomua has stepped into the role and Lealiifano struggled to rediscover his kicking mojo after having ankle surgery at the end of last year.

"The ankle isn't giving me too much grief now. I felt like I hit good form at the end of the season but then we were knocked out [of the Super Rugby finals]. I'm still looking to improve areas where I can get better.

"By the time I got into the groove, the season finished. Hopefully I can just keep going with that now."

The Vikings are a mix of 10 Brumbies-contracted players and the best from Canberra's first-grade competition.

NATIONAL RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1

Saturday: Canberra Vikings v Perth Spirit, at Viking Park, 2.30pm. Tickets available at the gate.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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