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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 Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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