Brumbies Christian gets the full 10 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brumbies Christian gets the full 10

By David Beniuk 31/01/2009 11:16:17 AM Comments (0)

If ever a player was flying under the radar, it's Brumbies five-eighth Christian Lealiifano.

With the spotlight blazing over NSW young gun Kurtley Beale and Queensland Wallaby tourist Quade Cooper as potential back-ups to Matt Giteau, Australia's fourth flyhalf has quietly overcome an off-season shoulder reconstruction and is looking forward to building on an impressive debut season in 2008.

"There's good competition and it's good for Australian rugby union that there's a lot of quality 10s going around, especially young quality 10s," Lealiifano told AAP.

"My main focus is the Brumbies and I'm just trying to focus on playing well and whatever happens after that happens.

"My main focus is myself. I can't worry about what they're doing and how they're going."

The 21-year-old was thrust into the playmaking role as the Brumbies were savaged by injuries last year and played every game of the side's Super 14 campaign.

Experienced five-eighth options Julian Huxley and Gene Fairbanks were among those to miss most of the year as a baby Brumbies outfit came close to claiming an unlikely finals berth.

Players like Lealiifano, Tyrone Smith and Francis Fainifo were at the forefront of an unexpected revival.

Now Lealiifano says new coach Andy Friend is backing him to play instinctively.

"Last year was more just sticking to the structures, now he's given me more confidence to, when I see an option, to go with it and just play my own game," Lealiifano said.

"I love playing like that and the boys have got the confidence in me to play like that."

Lealiifano has worked hardest on his defence following his shoulder operation at the end of last season.

"Especially with the shoulder injury last year, I'm definitely growing in confidence with that and I've definitely done a lot of hard work on it," he said.

"And game control, trying to take control of the game and know how to run it sort of smoothly instead of putting the team under pressure and myself under pressure."

Those improvements were on display in the Brumbies' first hit-out under Friend, a 28-14 trial win the Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

Lealiifano hopes they can help him throw down the challenge to Beale and Cooper.

"It's definitely a goal of mine to represent the Wallabies but at the moment the Brumbies are the No.1 priority and go from there," he said.

"Anything else is a bonus."

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