Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano’s battle with cancer has been well documented, and the playmaker is hoping that tests next month will reveal that he has been free of the disease for over two years.
31-year-old Lealiifano was diagnosed with leukaemia in August 2016 but recovered and returned to playing less than 12 months later, appearing in the Brumbies’ final game of the 2017 season.
Lealiifano has spent the off-season playing in the Japanese Top League with Toyota Jido Shokki and is hoping for a big year of Super Rugby with the Brumbies in 2019.
“Looking back I probably felt as good as I could have last season but I was probably a little bit off in terms of what I could produce in my playing ability,” Lealiifano said in an interview with the Canberra Times.
“Now what I’m excited about is I’m feeling as fit as I felt before I was sick and now I’m raring to go. I feel like I’m at a level where I can train and compete with everyone else again… I can’t explain enough how pleasing that is to feel.
“It’s been a long journey to get here and hopefully the fans will see a better Christian Lealiifano and the best they’ve seen yet, in 2019.
“I’m really excited for a big season, the older you get these chances don’t come around very often so I really want to make the most of every opportunity.”
A 19-Test Wallaby, Lealiifano outlined his determination represent Australia again, especially with the Rugby World Cup fast approaching.
“It’s the next level but I’m 100 per cent focused on winning a Super Rugby title here, I’ve been here for 11 or 12 seasons now and it’s eluded me,” Lealiifano said.
“So the passion is definitely still there to try and win a Super Rugby title, that’s the drive first but if I’m in form and playing my best footy then hopefully you’re knocking on the door for that next level stuff.
“It’s exciting, it’s a World Cup year, and everyone is excited to play good footy.
“Hopefully I’m able to play my best footy and that [contract] stuff can look after itself, wherever that pulls me.
“Whether it’s another season of Super Rugby or another Japan gig or a World Cup stint, there’s a lot of options… but I’m definitely passionate about playing Brumbies again and playing well and letting the rest take care of itself.”
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