Leali’ifano back in Wallabies squad for South Africa
SYDNEY (AP) — ACT Brumbies veteran Christian Leali’ifano has returned to a Wallabies squad for the first time in three years after recovering from leukemia.
Australia coach Michael Cheika named Leali’ifano in a 34-man squad Thursday for Australia’s first match of the Rugby Championship against South Africa on July 20.
The 31-year-old Leali’ifano played for the Brumbies this year but will move to Japan from next season. The South Africa match would be his first test since June 2016, two months before he was diagnosed with leukemia, and add to his 19 test appearance for Australia.
There are three players in the extended squad looking to earn their first test caps — No. 8 Isi Naisarani and rookie backrowers Liam Wright and Rob Valetini. The Brumbies, who lost in the Super Rugby semifinals last week to the Jaguares, have 10 players in the squad, including James Slipper, who also returns to the Wallabies after two years.
“We tried to look at Super Rugby form and what they can bring,” Cheika said.
The Wallabies will travel to Johannesburg on Sunday for a week-long training camp on South Africa’s Highveld to prepare for the high altitude conditions of the country’s largest city.
Following the South Africa match, the Wallabies return to Brisbane for their first home test of 2019 against Argentina on July 27.
Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga’a, Michael Hooper (captain), Luke Jones, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese, Rob Valetini, Liam Wright.
Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali’ifano, Jack Maddocks, Joe Powell, Matt Toomua, Nic White.