Lealiifano back to work

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Christian Lealiifano is back in Brumbies training and coach Stephen Larkham is putting him to work.

Lealiifano is in remission after a battle with Leukaemia, passing the critical 100-day milestone on the weekend after a bone marrow transplant.

The playmaker has been doing gym workouts as he begins his bid to return to rugby as well as taking on some coaching responsibilities.

Christian Lealiifano was back in the gym on Monday. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“As co-captain he'll still have influence on the players, in the locker room, out on the field and then from a coaching capacity, we'll certainly use him as one of the coaches in the early stages of his rehabilitation back into playing,” he said.

“He was in the gym today, so he started his rehab program to get back to playing but then he's also involved in the units meeting, he was presenting some of the training from yesterday.

“He's down on the field giving advice to the players and he's going to take a pretty big hand in the kicking coaching for the short-term.

“He's got a fairly important role in the group and quite a busy one at the moment .

“We're still paying him so he's got to do some work for us.” - Stephen Larkham

Larkham admitted a return to rugby would be ‘unbelievable’ for Lealiifano but remained hopeful that the 29-year-old would don a Brumbies jersey again.

“I don't think we're going to get anything before six months,” he said.

Henry Speight and Christian Lealiifano. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“The doctor, the specialists have spoken to him about the six-month mark (post-surgery) as being his target, so we're certainly not going to push anything before that.

“I certainly want to see him back training with us by the end of the season, playing with us, that'd be unbelievable.

“If he's back playing club rugby by the end of the season, that'd be unbelievable as well. - Stephen Larkham

“If he stays in remission for the rest of his life, that's the number one goal for now.

“I know he's got this journey that he's been on and he wants to get back and play rugby at some stage, so I'll help him facilitate that if I can.”

The Brumbies leave for Christchurch on Thursday ahead of their round one clash with the Crusaders and Larkham’s newest recruit, scrumhalf Dewet Roos, could yet be on the plane.

Roos, who is still working in construction administration with a Sydney company, joined the Brumbies on a trial basis after an injury to starting nine, Tomas Cubelli.

“It was very tough for him to pick everything up in two days but he's in contention for selection this week,” Larkham said.

“It’s a bit of a trial period for him...it'll be the first couple of weeks to make sure we're happy with that and (then) we'll talk about longer term."