Rugby World Cup
Christian Leali'ifano backed to impress against Barbarians
PA Sport
August 28, 2015
© Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Christian Leali'ifano is keen to show the Wallabies what they will miss at the World Cup when the Barbarians face Samoa, according to Jamie Joseph.

The Brumbies playmaker was the surprise fall-guy to miss out on coach Michael Cheika's final World Cup squad of 31, and will now take on Samoa on Saturday. The 27-year-old has lost out to Toulon star Matt Giteau, available again after the Wallabies eased their selection on overseas-based players.

Super 15-winning Highlanders coach Joseph will lead the Barbarians in Saturday's inaugural rugby match at London's Olympic Stadium, backing Leali'ifano to impress.

"Christian is a quality player, I think the Wallabies are well aware of his abilities too," Joseph told Press Association Sport. "But it never hurts to show what you can do in the international arena. You never know when injuries can strike either, so whilst he hasn't been selected initially, stranger things have happened than him being drafted back in.

"So I'm sure he knows just how important it will be to have a strong game, and I know that he will be ready. I don't think it will be preying on anyone's mind - but a good performance wouldn't hurt, that's for sure.

"World Cup squads are very difficult to balance, I haven't really put a lot of thought to the Wallabies squad in itself. It certainly speaks to their quality and strength in depth though, in that they felt in a position to leave some of that ability out of the 31.

"But we're delighted to have Christian with us and it will be extremely exciting to see what he can do. I'd say it's a nice second prize to be representing the Barbarians against Samoa in the first-ever rugby match in the Olympic Stadium.

"He's hungry, he's been training really well, so we'll just let him do his thing."

Stade Francais full-back Paul Williams is not available for Samoa's World Cup campaign, so will face his compatriots in Stratford this weekend instead. Barbarians coach Joseph believes the 32-year-old former Sale man will relish the occasion.

"I can only imagine it will be a special day for him to be facing the team he represented at a World Cup," said Joseph. "He's from a proud rugby family and it will be a big day I'm sure. There are a few boys who have heritage linking back to Samoa and the Islands, so that will be very special for those guys no doubt."

© PA Sport

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