Lealiifano makes emotional return for Brumbies
Cape Town - Brumbies utility back Christian Lealiifano made an emotional return to action for his side in an exhibition match in Singapore on Thursday.
Lealiifano, who has been out of action for 10 months as he continues his recovery after being diagnosed with leukaemia last August, played a total of 31 minutes in the Brumbies' 61-14 victory over the Asian Pacific Dragons at Queenstown Stadium.
The Wallaby, who has scored 796 points for the club, showed some touches of the old magic during his spell on the pitch, kicking five conversions for a 10-point contribution, signifying another major step towards a full recovery.
Lealiifano was last in competitive action in the Brumbies' Super Rugby quarter-final defeat against the Highlanders in Canberra in July 2016 and, whilst getting back into the cut and thrust of the game is a goal, he acknowledges his journey is still continuing.
“It was fantastic to get back onto the field and play some rugby after such a long lay-off,” Lealiifano told the Brumbies' official website.
“This is another step in the recovery process and it felt good to be on the field and fully involved again.
“I am concentrating totally on my recovery and my rugby at the moment and my focus is on helping the team and trying to get back to full health and my best as a rugby player.
“My journey is very much an ongoing process and I am mindful of taking each day as it comes. The Brumbies, as an organisation, have been incredibly supportive towards me and my family and the messages I have received from players, officials and supporters have been overwhelming.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank everybody who has supported me and sent me messages of good will since my diagnosis. I have been truly humbled by the amount of worldwide support I have received and I thank every one of you for that support.”
Brumbies chief executive Michael Thomson was delighted to see Lealiifano back in Brumbies colours in a game situation in Singapore.
“It’s incredible to see the progress that Christian has made and we are delighted to have him back on the field,” said Thomson.
“However, he is still recovering from a very significant illness and our role as a club is to provide such support and assistance as we can to ensure that he makes a complete and total recovery.”