Lealiifano secures ARU flexible contract

Christian Lealiifano has become the fourth Wallabies player to secure a flexible contract allowing him to play in Japan, after agreeing to two more years in Australian rugby.

The new deal will keep the 28-year-old playmaker, a veteran of 16 Tests, at the Brumbies until at least the end of 2018.

He has options to double up by playing seasons of Japanese club rugby in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Lealiifano follows Bernard Foley, Ben McCalman and Israel Folau as Wallabies players to secured flexible contracts with the Australian Rugby Union, though injury in the wake of the World Cup prevented Folau from playing a first season in Japan in recent months.

McCalman’s Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights, coached by former Wallabies mentor Robbie Deans, claimed a third straight title on Sunday.

Lealiifano has played 101 games for the Brumbies and is the second highest points scorer in the Super Rugby franchise’s history with 635 points.

“The Brumbies have shown a lot of faith in me over the last nine years and I’m pleased we have been able to sort everything out so I can stay,” Lealiifano said.

“By 2018 I will have been in Canberra for 12 years, so this is very much home for me.

“Working with (coach) Stephen Larkham I feel like my game has improved, so to have two more years to work with this coaching staff and the rest of the playing group is very exciting.”

Larkham hailed the signing as a key one for the Brumbies.

“Christian is a leader for this playing group on and off the field,” Larkham said.

“He will go down as one of finest players to have ever represented the Brumbies for many reasons, and we are very happy that he has agreed to stay until at least 2018.”

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