Cancer survivor Christian Leali'ifano recalled by Australia
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Last Updated: 04/07/19 9:39am
Brumbies captain 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 appearances for Australia.
The Brumbies, who lost in the Super Rugby semi-finals 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.
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.
Veteran back Adam Ashley-Cooper has been retained in a boost for the 35-year-old's hopes of playing at a fourth World Cup, while Brumbies full-back Tom Banks will battle Kurtley Beale for the No 15 jersey left vacant by the sacked Israel Folau.
Australia's squad also features some notable omissions.
Rebels No 10 Quade Cooper was left out, with the versatile Matt Toomua and Leali'ifano the likely back-ups at fly-half for Bernard Foley.
The selectors opted for Joe Powell and the returning Nic White as the understudies to regular scrum-half Will Genia, meaning Nick Phipps, a long-time Cheika favourite, was left out.
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.