New chapter in cancer survivor's story

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 15:15

NEWS: Twelve months ago his life was turned upside down by the news that he had leukaemia. On Friday he starts a new chapter.

Christian Lealiifano is set to make his first Ulster appearance on Friday in the historic Pro14 opener against the Cheetahs at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

The Australian international discovered - in August 2016 - that he had leukaemia, just two weeks after playing in the Brumbies' final Super Rugby game of the season.

Less than a year later, the utility back came off the replacements' bench to make his comeback to professional rugby in one of the heart-warming stories of the season.

The 29-year-old had to undergo chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, before getting the best news possible in February this year: he was in remission.

Capped 19 times by the Wallabies since making his debut against the British and Irish Lions in 2013, Lealiifano was given the green light to resume his rugby career, and he was given an emotional welcome when he returned in the Brumbies' Super Rugby quarterfinal defeat by the Hurricanes in July, 11 months after his original diagnosis.

Earlier this month Ulster confirmed they have signed Lealiifano on a deal which will run until the end of the European Champions Cup pool stages in January.

The 29-year-old will then return to the Brumbies for the start of the Super Rugby season.

Lealiifano has won 19 caps for the Wallabies and recently returned to action after recovering from leukaemia.

He will fill the gap left by Paddy Jackson, who has stepped aside from playing pending legal proceedings.
 
Fellow off-season signings Jean Deysel and John Cooney will also make their competitive debuts for the Province, having both lined out during the pre-season fixtures.
 
Friday's match will mark a momentous chapter in the history of the Pro14 Championship, as Southern Hemisphere sides join the competition for the first time, with the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs making their maiden trip to Belfast.
 
Chris Henry will captain the side from openside flanker, in what is an abrasive looking back row with the South African duo of Deysel and Marcell Coetzee at blindside flank and No.8 respectively.

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Ulster v Treviso 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 18h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Leinster v Dragons 18h35 RDS Stadium
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 18h45 Kingston Park
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Welford Road
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 25 November 2017
Bath v Harlequins 11h15 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 17h30 Bloemfontein
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
Sun, 26 November 2017
Zebre v Munster 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kings v Scarlets 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 Allianz Park
London Irish v Wasps 14h00 Madejski Stadium
PRO14
MORE LOGS
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Glasgow Warriors 8 8 0 0 38
Munster 8 5 0 3 26
Cheetahs 8 4 0 4 20
Connacht 8 3 0 5 16
Cardiff Blues 8 3 0 5 15
Zebre 8 2 0 6 12
Ospreys 8 2 0 6 11
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
Scarlets 8 7 0 1 34
Ulster 8 6 0 2 28
Leinster 8 6 0 2 27
Edinburgh 8 5 0 3 23
Treviso 8 3 0 5 14
Dragons 8 2 0 6 10
Kings 8 0 0 8 2