Christian Lealiifano is looking forward to Brumbies teammate David Pocock’s Super Rugby return.Brumbies co-captain Christian Lealiifano will do something on Saturday night he never thought was possible again.
The key playmaker will link with long-time teammate David Pocock again when the Wallabies flanker makes his Super Rugby return.
There is no bigger game for Pocock to be back for as the Brumbies host the NSW Waratahs at GIO Stadium in a crucial n conference showdown.
The significance of reuniting on the field with Pocock was not lost on Lealiifano when he spoke on Friday ahead of the match.
Pocock is returning from a knee injury which followed his 12-month sabbatical, while Lealiifano spent almost a year out of the game battling leukaemia.
“That’s what makes it pretty special to run out again with him, it’s something I’m very grateful for,” Lealiifano said.
“It’s amazing to see him (Pocock) in Brumbies colours. Just to get his qualities as a leader will be important for us and the boys are really getting a boost out of having him around.”
While emotions are set to run high with Pocock’s comeback, Lealiifano said it had been one of the tamer build-ups to a game with the Waratahs that he could recall.
But there is still plenty on the line as the fierce rivals both look to keep in touch with the Melbourne Rebels, who have broken away at the top of the conference.
The Waratahs are two points ahead of the Brumbies thanks to a draw against the Sharks in Durban, but both sides have won two matches.
“It’s (the rivalry) always there and guys who have played here in the past know the history, but we haven’t touched on it too much this week because that drains a lot of energy,” Lealiifano said.
After making six changes for their last-start win against the Sharks, Pocock is the Brumbies’ only inclusion at No.7 as Tom Cusack is forced to the bench.
For the Waratahs, coach Daryl Gibson has handed powerhouse winger Taqele Naiyaravoro his first start of the season.
Former Wallaby Curtis Rona has shifted to the centres, while Lalakai Foketi finds himself on the bench.
Gibson said his team was prepared for the new-look Brumbies, who have shifted to a more up-tempo game style this season under coach Dan McKellar.
“Obviously the Brumbies are attempting to change what they do with the ball. They’re running a lot more, particularly in their own area,” Gibson said.