"Swap for Samoa" Former Wallabies Star set to Swap Nations Ahead of 2023 Rugby World Cup - Ruck

“Swap for Samoa” Former Wallabies Star set to Swap Nations Ahead of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Former Wallabies star Christian Lealiifano is hoping to swap nations and run out for Samoa at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The versatile back revealed how he is closing in on agreeing the deal, and is ambitious on being included in the Samoa squad this September.

The 35-year-old has previously made 26 appearances for the Wallabies, and featured from the kicking tee. Lealiifano’s sharp-shooting saw him rack up 171 points for Australia, yet after three year’s away from the famous gold jersey, he is eligible to play for Samoa.

“I’m close. I think we’re just waiting on the form or the documents. I’m not too sure but I think it’s been signed off,” Lealiifano told Australian broadcasters AAP, after Moana Pasifika’s shock Super Rugby victory over the Waratahs on Saturday. This 33-24 win was Moana Pasifika’s first win of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, and firmly upset the hosts in New South Wales.

“I don’t want to just be a token selection because I’m available,” he said.

“I want to be playing some high-quality footy because it’s not an easy tournament, a World Cup and all those kind of things.

“So hopefully I could provide a bit of that, a bit of leadership and a bit of experience.”

With Samoan heritage, Lealiifano would be a welcomed addition to the Pacific Islander’s side ahead of their trip to France. The former Wallabies playmaker made his debut for Australia in 2013, and played against that Summer’s British and Irish Lions tourists.

Lealiifano was close to representing Samoa at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but changed his mind after he was selected by the Wallabies for the Tokyo tournament. Lealiifano spoke humbly about the opportunity, which he has fought valiantly to receive.

In 2016, Lealiifano was diagnosed with cancer, which he overcame after a year-long battle with Leukaemia. The fly half returned to rugby in 2017, and has since starred for the Brumbies, Ulster and Japanease duo the Toyota Shuttles and NTT Shining Arcs.

“Every day is a blessing so I’m just so thankful to be still running around,” Lealiifano said.

“Ten years ago you could never think this, because you were playing for the Wallabies and all that, and you were aspiring to play there, and to have these laws and eligibility opportunities is pretty cool.

“It’s exciting for the next generation coming through too, that they can aspire to not only play for tier-one nations but tier-two as well and you can sort of jump over if you like.”

“As a whole, I think it will be really, really special just to be able to represent my family and my blood,” he said.