Christian Lealiifano, the Australia and Brumbies back, will be making his return to Super Rugby on Friday’s less than a year after he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Lealiifano will be playing in the quarterfinal against the Hurricanes. He has been named on the bench for the match against the reigning Super Rugby champions. He was told in February that his leukaemia was in remission after he underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant from his sister.
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said, “It would be a gamble if I thought he wasn’t right to play. But the way that he’s trained with the team over the last three months gives me a fair indication that he’s ready to play.”
Larkham made a number of other changes to the squad after he rested a raft of players for last weekend’s 28-10 loss to the Chiefs. The defeat left the team with a 6 – 9 record for the regular season.
Andrew Smith and James Dargaville have been given starts with the inside centre Kyle Godwin and winger Aidan Toua unavailable due to injury.
If the team want to secure a semi-final in South Africa against the Lions or the Sharks then they must become the first Australian team to beat a New Zealand side in 26 attempts this season.
The Hurricanes have been better than the Brumbies in almost every area this season and defeated them 56 – 21 in the ninth round.
However, Larkham remains confident, “It’s a new season and everything before is irrelevant. We’re pretty happy with the way we’ve prepared for this match. It’s do or die irrespective of how you’ve gone through the season, it all comes down to this game.”