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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.


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

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
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 22:00Leicester City Stadium
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
SAF 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
NZL 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs ARG 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 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 3 0 3 0 -96 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 3 0 3 0 -59 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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