Lealiifano refreshed after reality check

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A month away from rugby was exactly what Christian Lealiifano needed, after being dealt a harsh reality check by his doctors.

Lealiifano will play his first game in a month when he leads the Brumbies out against the Rebels on Saturday night, having missed their last two starts to allow his body some time to rest.

Speaking at the Brumbies' captain's run on Friday morning, the ACT skipper revealed details of a chat with specialists which put his recovery from leukaemia into context. 

"When I stepped back and looked at my health and saw the specialists a bit more, they (made me) a bit more cautious of being aware of when I will be tired and understanding that I will be," Lealiifano said.

"I'm on a one-year-old blood system running around in a 30-year-old's body and trying to play at a high level.

"Once they gave that to me in that context, it made me realise I need to look after my body a little bit more.Lealiifano will return from a month away on Saturday. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Definitely the last month - the last three or four weeks - have been really good.

"I've been able to work on my health and I'm really glad we have done that."

Lealiifano didn't have any planned rest periods in the back of his mind prior to that discussion but did feel flat prior to his last match, against the Highlanders.

"I was feeling alright and took a bit of a downward turn," he said.

"I was feeling a bit flat throughout trainings and a bit more tired than usual.

"We just had to find a time somewhere and as hard as it was with where the team was sitting, I think it was a big decision from Dan to give me a break.Lealiifano will lead the Brumbies out on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images"But they've given me time to refresh and now I'm feeling really, really good for it."

Now that he's had a month away from the group, the 30-year-old is itching to help guide the Brumbies back to the winners circle in what is nearing must win territory against the Rebels.

"When you get back in you're full of excitement and that's one thing I said from the start - you have to always enjoy each day," he said.

"We understand how important this game is for us, as a group.

"As exciting and as frustrating as (the absence) was it's really exciting to get out here for a big clash.

"They're the ones you want to be a part of."

The Brumbies host the Rebels at GIO Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au radio.