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Lealiifano tips Auelua for big season


David Polkinghorne

Fotu Auelua lifts weights at Brumbies pre-season training.

Fotu Auelua lifts weights at Brumbies pre-season training. Photo: Karleen Minney

IF SUPER Rugby teams were worried about Fotu Auelua's big hitting last season, they should be downright scared next year.

ACT Brumbies fly-half Christian Lealiifano said there were two factors that would make Auelua a scary proposition for opposing teams next season - he's had a full pre-season under his belt and new collision coach Brian Smith has started fine-tuning the human wrecking-ball's tackling technique.

Auelua joined the Brumbies in February from Japanese club NTT Communications, but brought a knee injury with him that limited his pre-season even further.

But when he was fit, he unleashed his 1.89-metre, 115-kilogram physique to devastating effect - most notably in Johannesburg, where he left several Lions wishing he'd stayed in Japan.

Lealiifano predicted a fit Auelua would be even better after a full pre-season.

''His game in general is going to be quite scary and I'm looking forward to seeing him roll out next year with a solid fitness base and just being around the group longer,'' he said of the loose forward.

Lealiifano returned to full training ''three or four'' weeks ago as he continued his comeback from a gruesome dislocated and fractured ankle he suffered against the NSW Waratahs in May.

He also had shoulder surgery in the off-season.

But the Brumbies No.10 said he was ''back on track'' and raring to go for next year.

''Everything's holding up really well,'' Lealiifano said. ''I'm trying to get back to better than what I was before and everything's on track.

''There's still a little bit more to do just after the New Year, but [I'm] pretty happy with where I'm at at the moment.''

He said Auelua wasn't the only Brumbies player benefiting from Smith's expertise.

The former NRL coach has been working with the squad on its tackling technique for two weeks.

Originally, the Brumbies tried to sign Newcastle hooker Danny Buderus for the role, but the ARL Commission quashed the idea within hours of its announcement.

Lealiifano said Smith had been studying the new code and bouncing ideas off players and coaches about what would and wouldn't work in Super Rugby.

''The boys have really bought in to what he's doing and ripped in, and it's only going to make us better as a side,'' he said.

''We're already seeing great improvements in the boys' tackling techniques.''

While Smith has been helping Lealiifano with his tackling, Damien Hill has been helping with his kicking.

It's an area the fly-half said he needed to work on as his ankle healed.

He said he had been ''frustrated'' at times with having to take it easy, so as not to do any damage during his rehabilitation.

And with Brumbies coach Jake White's willingness to bring in experts from other football codes, Lealiifano did not rule out working with someone from the AFL in the future.

The All Blacks have already tapped into that expertise, with former Sydney Swans player Michael Byrne employed as their kicking coach.

''We've got Damien Hill, who's done some work with the Wests Tigers, he comes in once a week and does some kicking with us, and he's been phenomenal with my kicking last season,'' he said.

''If we could tap into some AFL guys that would be great, but we've got Damien Hill at the moment and he's doing quite well.''

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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