Lealiifano makes rugby return in Singapore

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Christian Lealiifano has made a surprise return to rugby, just 10 months after being diagnosed with Leukaemia, in a story that has lit up the rugby world on Thursday night.

Lealiifano hasn't played since his diagnosis last August, having undergone intense treatment and a bone marrow transplant, before showing his determination to work towards a rugby comeback.

In preseason, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham expressed hope that Lealiifano could make a play for Super Rugby finals, an optimism that seemed misplaced at the time, but now seems well within reach.

Lealiifano came off the bench for the Brumbies in Thursday night's mid-season friendly against the Asia Pacific Dragons, kicking six conversions in a 61-14 win overseas and looking as dangerous as ever.

Wallabies and Brumbies prop Scott Sio said just last week that Lealiifano was close to a return and whenever that came it would be a watershed moment for rugby across the world.

“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," Sio said last week.

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

Plenty of Lealiifano's teammates and fans flocked to social media to congratulate the Brumbies co-captain on his comeback, with the entire rugby community keeping one eye on his recovery in recent months.

The Brumbies ran in eight tries to two in a dominant win, that also saw the return of Tomas Cubelli from a long injury layoff.

Neither Cubelli nor Lealiifano were named in the official Singapore squad, but both came off the bench to make an impact in the clash.

The Brumbies have two more regular season Super Rugby matches to go before hosting a home quarter-final, having secured the Australian conference.


Brumbies 61

Tries: Cusack, Jackson-Hope 2,  Banks, Ah Wong, Smiler, Alcock, Morseu 

Cons: Lealiifano 5, Hawera 2, Cubelli

Asia Paciifc Dragons 14

Tries: Kaleca, Misiloi

Cons: Reynolds 2