Leali­ifano ‘ so close’ to dream come­back

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JIM TUCKER

CHRIS­TIAN Leali­ifano has the most in­signif­i­cant ham­string twinge in sports his­tory sim­ply be­cause of what he has over­come to reach Su­per Rugby stan­dard again.

What are a few lousy mus­cle fi­bres not fol­low­ing the script com­pared with the in­spi­ra­tional man­ner in which he has tack­led leukaemia?

The for­mer Wal­laby will be wa­ter boy for the Brumbies tonight at Sun­corp Sta­dium be­cause of the nig­gle at Wed­nes­day night train­ing in Can­berra.

“In our minds ( as the coach­ing staff) he was in but we hadn’t told the play­ers,” coach Steve Larkham said of how close Leali­ifano had been to a come­back.

More than 25 fam­ily mem­bers and friends will still be at Sun­corp Sta­dium tonight be­cause the nig­gle scut­tled things too late.

The up­shot is that cen­tre­fly­half Leali­ifano is now a se­ri­ous con­tender to play against the Chiefs in Hamil­ton on Satur­day week to pre­pare for a role in a quar­ter- fi­nal in Can­berra on July 21.

“He’s spo­ken to the spe­cial­ists in Mel­bourne about go­ing back to full- time work ... and they knew what his full- time work was,” Larkham said.

“And they cleared him to do what­ever he wanted to do as a full- time pro­fes­sional ath­lete.

“Ob­vi­ously, we are 100 per cent guided by Chris­tian ( on how he feels) but I can say he’s been one of our best train­ers for a long time and with that old en­ergy.”

This is so much more than a “footy player beats ill­ness” story be­cause of the type of per­son Leali­ifano is.

“He’s a spe­cial player,” Larkham said.

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