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Lealiifano confident of returning

Friday, January 17, 2014

CANBERRA - Wallabies centre Christian Lealiifano has earmarked the Brumbies' round-five clash with the NSW Waratahs on March 15 for his return to Super Rugby action.

The 26-year-old is recovering from the ankle surgery he underwent in December following a break-out season in which he made his international debut in the opening Test of the British and Irish Lions series in Brisbane.

However, that appearance lasted just 42 seconds. He was carried off after being knocked out when attempting to tackle Jonathan Davies.

But Lealiifano bounced back to play 13 times in the green and gold last year before going under the knife to cure a long-term ankle problem, with his moonboot to be removed on Monday.

"Everything is on track. It's been frustrating, I've been on crutches for a while and I'm itching to get out," Lealiifano said.

The inside centre battled through last season with the niggling ankle, which he first broke in 2012.

"You think you'd get some kind of warranty on these kind of things," he joked.

"All the nurses (in December) were like: 'Oh you're back again!"

While he conceded precaution could delay his return as late as the round-seven clash with the Melbourne Rebels, Brumbies' director of rugby Laurie Fisher believes the Waratahs match is a very realistic possibility.

"That will be the aim. He's very important in our structures," Fisher said.

In the meantime, Pat McCabe, South African recruit Lionel Cronje and Andrew Smith will battle it out for the No.12 jersey.

Meanwhile, joining captain Ben Mowen, Lealiifano, David Pocock and Stephen Moore in the Brumbies' leadership group in 2014 will be back-row enforcer Fotu Auelua.

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