Lealiifano inspired by the smile of his son

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The smile of Jeremih Lealiifano, Christian's son, was what kept the inspirational Brumbies star going through his darkest days.

Lealiifano today spoke publicly for the first time since returning to rugby and revealed the shining light that spurned him on while pushing through rigorous chemotherapy treatment in Melbourne.

"It helped me massively to know that he had zero awareness of what was going on," Lealiifano said of his son.

"To have him come into hospital and see his dad with no hair one day, no hair, no eyebrows and he still smiles and knows who you are, it's truly uplifting hey.

"You look in the mirror and you're actually sick but then you see your son and he makes you smile.Lealiifano's story has inspired a nation. Photo: Getty Images"Keeping him close to me was something that motivated me and inspired me to get better.

"To be a dad and make it to his first birthday meant a lot."

Lealiifano's story has inspired a nation.

Struck down with a leukaemia diagnosis in August 2016, his return to rugby was something that coach Stephen Larkham always believed was a matter of when, not if.

That belief, along with the support of friends, family, fans and countless others, who Lealiifano went to great extent to thank today, was another motivating factor in his journey back to full health.

"He (Larkham) was probably the one person that from day one, he was always believing that I would get back and play," Lealiifano said.

"Knowing that in the back of my mind, that someone was there that truly believed I would make it - he never wavered off that and it really inspired me and motivated me.Lealiifano made special mention of the support he received from Stephen Larkham. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Knowing that someone truly, truly believed that I could get back and play footy again and then to run out in the quarter final against the Hurricanes was truly special," Lealiifano said.

The 29-year-old was also stoic in saying he would go through the treatment 10 times over, such is the impact this battle has had on his take on life.

"Just my outlook on life - rugby is a small part of it but my perspective changed, obviously, when I had a child," he said.

"Then when you get leukaemia and go through that, everything changes even more.

"I'm really, really, really grateful and I've said this before - I would go this through 10 times again to be the person I am today."Lealiifano returned to Super Rugby against the Hurricanes. Photo: Getty ImagesReports in recent days indicate Lealiifano is considering a move to Ulster to get game time back in his legs before the 2018 season but no such deal has been locked in, according to the man himself.

A stint with the Vikings come NRC time is an options, as is a move to other overseas clubs, but Lealiifano hasn't thought about any potential Wallabies involvement down the track.

He's simply focused on staying fit and healthy, with the battle of a lifetime now firmly in the rearview mirror.

"They always say that when you are in remission you have beaten it but they don't actually say you have beaten it until roughly two years," he said.

"One thing that they said they can never guarantee is that the cancer won't come back.

"They can give you every chance but it's just a matter of trying to live each day the best you can."

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