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Comeback kid Lealiifano to lean on Mitchell

Christian Lealiifano trains with Clyde Rathbone during the Brumbies' pre-season.

Christian Lealiifano trains with Clyde Rathbone during the Brumbies' pre-season. Photo: Karleen Minney

Returning ACT Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano will seek advice from Drew Mitchell on Friday to help calm his nerves as he prepares to return from the horrific ankle injury that cost him a Wallabies jersey.

Lealiifano will get a ''clean start'' when he plays his first match on Friday night since dislocating his ankle against the NSW Waratahs in May last year.

And while he was favoured to claim the Wallabies five-eighth spot before his season ended prematurely, the 25-year-old will launch his bid for Test selection as an inside-centre.

Lealiifano's painful journey back ends when the Brumbies play Western Force in a trial game in Darwin.

But before he pulls on the jersey, he will phone Mitchell for an in-depth chat about how to overcome the nerves, pressure and fear after a serious injury.

Waratahs winger Mitchell dislocated his ankle and broke a bone in his leg two years ago and had to battle through a drawn-out recovery and constant pain.

''I'll give Drew a call before kick-off just to have a chat, I just want to pick his brain to see if what I'm feeling is normal,'' Lealiifano said.

''The nerves and everything you feel going into that first game back … just to get that reassurance that everything is going to be all right.

''I've seen his progression, we've spoken a lot and seeing where he is makes you feel comfortable that everything will be all right. It's not just me that's been through a hard time.''

Lealiifano was having the best season of his career before his leg was caught under teammate Andrew Smith and he left the field in agony.

He was playing so well that despite missing the second half of the season he still managed to finish runner-up in Australia's Super Rugby player of the year award.

Had he been fit, Lealiifano would have almost certainly been given a chance to impress in the Wallabies No.10 jumper.

But with Matt Toomua returning from a knee injury which ended his 2012 campaign and Pat McCabe sidelined until at least round four, coach Jake White will use Lealiifano as an inside-centre.

Now in his sixth season in Canberra, Lealiifano's goal is to return ''better than I was before'' and stay in Wallabies contention.

He's unfazed by switching back to inside-centre and confident it won't harm his Test claims.

''I'm nervous because I haven't played for so long, but I'm excited and I've been doing contact training since December, so I've got confidence in stepping and tackling and everything,'' Lealiifano said.

''Wanting to come back even better is something that has driven me. I'm not going to set the world on fire [on Friday] but to be able to tick a few more boxes and build some momentum is perfect for me.''

The Brumbies will unleash a near full-strength line-up in the first half against the Force with recruit David Pocock suiting up for the first time.

It's the Brumbies' only pre-season match against a Super Rugby opponent and White will rest his starting XV for the second 40 minutes.

The match signals the end of a three-year deal between the Brumbies and Northern Territory government, with the two-time Super Rugby champions not returning to Darwin for pre-season games next year.

Skipper Ben Mowen will start at No.8 and the new leadership group of Pocock, Stephen Moore and Lealiifano will all be on the field at the same time.

''We've spoken a lot about taking our game to the next level this year,'' Mowen said.

''I'm extremely excited by the leaders we've got, Christian is a natural leader and performer and he's got good balance.

''Poey and Squeak [Moore] speak for themselves, they add so much and Squeak was outstanding last year, he drove our forward pack and the team standards. Poey is already having a huge influence.

''This is a good position to be in, we need a variety of voices to deliver messages, so this is going to be great for us.''

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 17:35AMI
REB vs BLU 19:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 17:35WS
FOR vs WAR 19:40nib Stadium
LIO vs HIG 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs BRU 01:05DHL Newlands
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 17:35EP
RED vs REB 19:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 17:35WS
WAR vs SHA 19:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 03:10FSS
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 17:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 19:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 17:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
RED vs CHF 19:40SS
CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 19:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 10 9 1 0 107 43
Bulls 11 7 4 0 48 34
Brumbies 11 6 5 0 93 32
Chiefs 11 8 3 0 77 38
Waratahs 10 7 3 0 32 31
Stormers 11 7 4 0 25 30
Highlanders 10 7 3 0 53 33
Lions 11 6 5 0 -45 27
View all
 
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