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Lealiifano draws inspiration from Mitchell
Joe Barton
19:27 AEST Wed Nov 28 2012

Star Brumbies five-eighth Christian Lealiifano says Drew Mitchell's inspirational recovery from a dislocated ankle helped him through his own dark times this year - and could result in the two linking up for the Wallabies.

Mitchell completed his journey back to the top last weekend against Italy when he had his first start for the Wallabies since re-injuring his troublesome ankle against New Zealand in August.

All of the complications around Mitchell's comeback stem from the severity of his dislocated ankle, suffered in April last year.

Lealiifano suffered a similarly horrific injury in May this year, ironically against Mitchell's Waratahs, and admits he's had plenty of dark times on the long recovery.

But the sight of Mitchell running out for the Wallabies again - a level Lealiifano looked set to reach before the injury curse struck - has given him hope.

"I had some real hard times thinking about how long and how hard it was going to be to get back," Lealiifano said on Wednesday.

"Watching the Wallabies is always tough and knowing that your name was thrown around there is hard to hear I guess, but at the same time I used it as a motivation to try and get back even better than what I was when I got injured.

"Talking to the doctor some people can have it as a career-ending injury and I've sort of been blessed to come out on the other side.

"... (Mitchell) came and spoke to me the night I got injured and said he did the same thing and came back.

"To see him running around last week and still running around is always a positive for me.

"Knowing that other guys are going through something similar is always a positive to know you can bounce back from it."

But for the injury Lealiifano, who finished second in the Australian Super Rugby player of the year award to Will Genia despite missing the last six games, would have made his Wallabies debut this year and more than likely would have been picked alongside Mitchell for the spring tour.

He says reaching that level is now his short-term goal, but he also plans to use the experience he learned when he recovered from a knee injury in 2010.

"I did a knee in 2010 and bounced back from that okay but each year something's holding me back," he said.

"This one's been very, very tough, just because I never really had an ankle (injury before) and how traumatic it was was pretty full on.

"Coming back from it was a long process ... it's one of the hardest things I've been through in my life.

"And being able to overcome that now and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is a positive."

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