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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.''

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 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
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