Australian head coach Michael Cheika has named his first squad since the Falou scandal and one of the surprise inclusions is the return of Christian Lealiifano.
The 31 year old, Brumbies fly half and captain has been named in the Wallabies 34 man squad for the Rugby Championships opener against South Africa on July 20th, despite not playing for his country since earning his 19th cap back in June 2016.
Only weeks later he was diagnosed with Blood cancer (Leukaemia), he is now in remission with no signs of the disease for the past two years as he has started his long pathway back to international rugby.
Speaking on his inclusion Cheika said
“He deserves to be there, “If you take out the other things that he's achieved, he's been playing good rugby.
“I'm not the expert to speak on what Christian has been through, only he knows that and his family. What you can't deny is his form in Super Rugby.”
His inclusion means there is no room for Melbourne Rebels fly half Quade Cooper, who himself has’nt made played a test game in nearly two years and with 70 caps to his name could have played his last!
To show Australia’s new found strength as Cheika looks to the youth, he has also left out experienced Scrum half Nick Phipps who has 71 caps to his name and the very experienced flanker Ned Hanigan.
With Will Genia expected to remain first choice scrum half long side half back partner Foley, that leaves Joe Powell, Nic White, Toomua and Lealiifano has their understudies for the campaign.
After their opener against South Africa, the Wallabies will host Argentina on July 27th and New Zealand on August 10th as part of annual four team competition that has been shorted for this year due to Septembers World Cup competition in Japan.
Michael Hooper (c), Adam Ashley-Cooper, Allan Alaalatoa , Tom Banks, Rory Arnold, Kurtley Beale
Jack Dempsey, Bernard Foley,Folau Fainga’a, Will Genia, Luke Jones, Dane Haylett-Petty, Sekope Kepu Reece Hodge, Tolu Latu, Samu KereviIsi Naisarani*, Marika Koroibete, Tom Robertson, Tevita Kuridrani,
Izack Rodda, Christian Lealiifano, Rob Simmons, Jack Maddocks, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Joe Powell, Scott Sio, Matt Toomua, James Slipper, Nic White, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese, Rob Valetini*, Liam Wright*