Lealiifano gets 'captaincy' role at Brumbies

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 12:44

NEWS: Leukaemia patient Christian Lealiifano will have a 'captaincy' role at the Brumbies, despite still receiving treatment for his illness.

The Brumbies revealed on Wednesday that Wallabies Sam Carter and Lealiifano will act as co-captains in 2017.

Lealiifano is likely to be employed in an off-field mentoring role, as he will not be allowed to start training for at least another three months.

He had a bone-marrow transplant in November, after being diagnosed with leukaemia last year.

Lealiifano is currently in Melbourne, where he underwent the medical procedure, and still visits the hospital twice per week.

It is not sure exactly when he will return to Canberra, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is optimistic about Lealiifano's chances of playing again - perhaps a year or two down the line.

Larkham made it clear Lealiifano's presence around the squad will be a huge tonic for the.

"You can see a noticeable lift when Christian is around," Larkham said.

"He's a motivator and he's got immense respect from the players.

"I'm optimistic about a possible return for Christian and, whilst playing this season is unlikely, we hope he will be in a position to train with the squad later in the year."

Carter, capped thirteen times by the Wallabies alongside 79 Super Rugby appearances for the Brumbies, will be performing on-field duties of a captain.

He led the team in the 59-0 trial win over the Australian barbarians at Viking Park last weekend and is relishing the opportunity of a leadership role.

"It's a huge honour for me, I'm really excited about the season ahead," Carter said.

"He [Stephen Larkham] told me a couple of weeks ago and it was a little bit of a shock but it was also something I wanted, I was confident that I could fulfil the role.

"We've got huge leaders in the team, we've got blokes with massive experience and that can only help moving forward. The boys in the team really look up to them and that makes my job easier."

A product of rugby nursery The Scots College in Sydney, Carter has been a force at lock for the Brumbies since making his debut in 2011. Never one to take a step back, the 2m tall workhorse was included in the Wallabies 2015 World Cup squad despite suffering a knee injury prior to the tournament.

Carter's determination to return from injury is just one of the many reasons he is now regarded as the premier-tight-head lock in Australian Rugby.

The Brumbies continue their pre-season preparations this weekend when they travel to Nudgee to take on the Waratahs in a trial match at Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium.

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