Christian Lealiifano set for Super Rugby finals return

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    Christian Lealiifano is poised to play his first Super Rugby game since being diagnosed with leukaemia almost a year ago in the Brumbies’ quarter-final against the Hurricanes in Canberra on Friday night.

    Coach Stephen Larkham said he had no qualms about throwing the Wallaby back into the mix in a heartwarming touch to the match despite sitting out the season due to his illness.

    Lealiifano was set to play two weeks ago against the Reds but his return was delayed when he injured his hamstring on the eve of the game.

    The 29-year-old only needed to get through their Monday afternoon training session to be named in the line-up against the defending champions.

    Larkham said he didn’t consider playing him as a gamble.

    “It would be a gamble if I thought he wasn’t right to play so we’ll wait and make that assessment after we see how he trains,” the coach said.

    “We’ll name the team Tuesday but the way he’s trained within the team over the last three months gives me a fair indication that he’s ready to play.”

    The Brumbies are set to bolster their ranks after resting 10 players for the last game of the regular season.

    Rory Arnold (shoulder) and Chris Alcock (thigh) are expected to be fit while Sam Carter, Joe Powell, Tevita Kuridrani and Allan Alaalatoa will all be fresh after having a week off.

    Larkham said his preference would have been to play the Chiefs, despite losing to them in the last regular round 28-10.

    He believed the Hurricanes had taken the front-running as the best New Zealand team after handing the Crusaders their first loss of the season on Saturday.

    The Brumbies haven’t beaten a New Zealand team since they toppled the Hurricanes in the opening round of the season last year.

    But Larkham said that counted for little.

    “It’s as new season and everything before is irrelevant,” he said.

    “We’re pretty happy with the way we’ve prepared for this final.

    “It’s do or die irrespective of how you’ve gone through the season it all comes down to this game.”

    © AAP 2017