Christian Lealiifano

  • 32 Age
  • 95kg Weight
  • 179cm Height

Biography

Born in Auckland and of Samoan heritage, Christian Leali’ifano was six years old when his family moved to Melbourne. He began playing rugby at age 10, went on to become one of a small group of players to be selected for Australian Schools’ honours from Victoria and then joined the Brumbies’ Academy. In early 2006 Leali’ifano endured a career defining moment. Just prior to that year’s U19s World Cup he lost his father to liver cancer. Unsure of whether to stay at home or head to the UAE with the team Leali’ifano was convinced by his mum and one of his brothers that his dad would want him to go. The Australians won the tournament and Leali’ifano starred in the final as he set up a try for future fellow Wallaby Lachlan Turner and kicked two conversions in the 17-13 victory over New Zealand. Upon his return he was promoted to the Brumbies’ senior squad and onto a rookie contract for 2007.

Three years later, and after having ruptured his posterior cruciate ligament early in the Super Rugby season, Leali’ifano gained invaluable experience alongside future Brumby Henry Speight when he represented eventual grand finalists Waikato in the 2010 ITM Cup. A broken ankle put paid to his prospects for the 2012 representative season before he finally came of age in 2013. On the back of an excellent season for the Super Rugby runners-up Leali’ifano made his Test debut against the British & Irish Lions in Brisbane and went on to collect 13 caps for the season. In 2016 Australian rugby was rocked by news that Leali’ifano had been diagnosed with leukaemia. He underwent intense treatment and a bone marrow transplant.

Ten months later, and in what was described as nothing short of one of the most inspirational sporting comebacks of all time, he came off the bench for the Brumbies in a mid-season friendly against the Asia Pacific Dragons. Leali’ifano then made his Super Rugby comeback in the quarter-final defeat to the Hurricanes before he signed a short-term deal with Irish PRO14 club Ulster. In 2019 Leali’ifano was justifiably rewarded for a superb season as Brumbies captain with selection in the Wallaby squad for The Rugby Championship.

Highlights

2006

Selected in the Australian squad which won the third annual IRB U19 Junior World Championship title in the United Arab Emirates. Selected in the Australian squad for the fifth-annual IRB under-21 Rugby World Championships in France.

2006/07

Represented Australia in the IRB Sevens World Series

2013

Won his first Test cap when selected at inside centre for the 1st Test, 21-23 loss to the British & Irish Lions in Brisbane. Unfortunately that debut lasted just 43 seconds after he was knocked cold when tackling rival Jonathan Davies. Over the course of the season Leali’ifano played a total of 13 Tests, 11 of which came in the run-on XV.

2014

Leali’ifano returned from ankle surgery to find his spot in the Wallaby backline was filled by fellow Brumby Matt To’omua. He returned to the team for the final Bledisloe Cup Test and picked up a further two caps against Wales and France on the end-of-season Spring Tour.

2016

Leali’ifano earned three Test caps off the bench in the June home series against England.