Lealiifano inspires Sio to keep smiling

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies prop Scott Sio has battled with injury this season, but his rehab struggles have always been put into perspective, with the ever-positive Christian Lealiifano by his side.

Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano was diagnosed with Leukemia in August last year, a diagnosis that put his career, and life, at risk.

Sio’s struggles with his own injuries have been admittedly ‘minor’ alongside Lealiifano, and his captain’s presence has helped him maintain a smile through his rehab process.

“You rarely see him get angry or frustrated in the group and to be in the position he is as captain, you’re following his every lead,” he said.

“To see how calm and collected he is with the adversity he’s facing on a personal front, it really sort of tells you to sit back and put everything into perspective and say, ‘It’s really not that tough if we’re willing to stick together and push through it’,” he said.

“For me, it puts a lot of these kind of minor injuries into perspective and to see how willing he is to put his body on the line for training to make everybody else better, it’s truly great and it’s something I’ve really tried to bring into this game.”

Christian Lealiifano is back at Brumbies HQ. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyLealiifano’s strength has been on display through the whole process, from undergoing treatment and a bone marrow transplant in Melbourne, to finally going into remission earlier this year.

Remission far from puts him out of the woods, in what is a years-long process to full recovery, but the playmaker could remarkably be back in action towards the latter half of the year.

“He’s been full training with the team, he’s been carving the starters up so I’ve been giving (Brumbies co-captain) Sam Carter a bit of flak,” Sio said.

“He hasn’t lost a step and that’s credit to him within his rehab and his approach to coming back to the game as well.

“When Christian comes back, no matter who that’s for, it’ll be a pretty special moment for world rugby as a whole.

“He has his good days and his bad days, as you will, but he’s pushed through as well as he can with the positive attitude that he has.”

As he prepares for his own comeback this weekend, Sio said the time out, ticking up to eight weeks, had helped him become a better leader.

“It has been quite a disrupted year for me but I’ve learned to keep growing off the field as well in different areas of my game.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be part of a great leadership squad down there at the Brumbies and we’re trying to do some special things.

“(I’m) seeing the influence I can bring in other areas of the game off the field and trying to make each player their best as well and having that same frame of mind heading into here (Wallabies).

“The individual’s only as strong as the collective as well and vice versa.

“If everyone’s doing the best they can within any role in the team, we’re only going to be better as one.”

The Wallabies take on Scotland on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.