Lealiifano to leave Brumbies for Japan
Canberra - Wallaby
flyhalf and inspirational cancer survivor Christian Lealiifano said
on Monday he will leave the Brumbies at the end of the season for Japan
after an offer that was "too hard to turn down".
Lealiifano, the captain of the Canberra-based Super Rugby side, said
he made the "really difficult decision" to leave the Brumbies after 12
years and 148 appearances.
"Dan (Brumbies coach Dan McKellar) sat down and offered me another
contract extension and I had to look at that and I had to factor in all
my goals for the next little while and think about my family,"
Lealiifano told reporters.
"And then I got an offer from Japan as well and it was probably too
hard to turn down with my young boy and my wife, and not getting any
younger as well, so I thought it was time to think about them rather
Lealiifano - who has had stints with Japanese Top League team Toyota
Shokki and Irish side Ulster - is set to join Ichikawa-based NTT
The 31-year-old has been a key part of the Brumbies' successful
season and the team will host South Africa's Sharks in the Super Rugby
quarter-finals in Canberra on Saturday.
Lealiifano, who has played 19 Tests for the Wallabies, is in the frame for a World Cup spot in Japan later this year.
The move comes just two years after Lealiifano returned to playing
rugby after he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016. He had a successful
bone marrow transplant and entered remission in 2017.
McKellar praised Lealiifano for his contribution to the club, adding that he was sad to see him leave.
"You will not meet a more selfless person then Christian Lealiifano.
To go through what he went through, and to come back and still find time
to lead and care for those around him, to be there for his team-mates,
he's an incredible person," McKellar said in a statement.
"He should be very proud of the legacy he leaves at the Brumbies."