Grateful Lealiifano excited for future

Christian Lealiifano. Photo: Getty Images
Christian Lealiifano. Photo: Getty Images
Christian Lealiifano has admitted he thought he would never play rugby again, even when he resumed training, and says he's grateful for the changed outlook he got from his leukaemia battle.

Addressing the media in Canberra on Tuesday for the first time since returning to the field, the Brumbies star thanked the Australian rugby community, Wallabies team-mates and the Brumbies "family" for helping him beat cancer.

"When I first started training I thought I would never play football again," he said, just over a year since his diagnosis.

"When the doctor gave me the all clear that I could return back to work, that was when I had my eye on the prize."

Lealiifano believed his battle with cancer had made him a "better person".

"It has changed my outlook on life," he said.

"I would go through this 10 times again for the person I am today, the journey I have been through and the person that I have become."

The 29-year-old also admitted he'd had been hesitant to face the media during his recovery.

"One of the reasons I have been reluctant to make a big deal out of my story is that I am conscious of all the other people and families that are going through this terrible disease," he said.

"Not everyone has had the outcome that I have had, and my heart goes out to all those fighting this battle."

Lealiifano, who made his Super Rugby return during the Brumbies' quarterfinal exit in July, is expected to continue his comeback with a short-term switch during the off-season.

"I am definitely exploring some options - the National Rugby Championship is one and obviously overseas as well, to get some quality game time in and prepare me for the future," he said.

While Lealiifano had been linked to Belfast club Ulster, the first five-eighth insisted no deal had been confirmed.

"Nothing has been locked away yet - it is something in the pipeline," he said.

Lealiifano expressed his excitement about the 2018 Super Rugby campaign, with the return of David Pocock from sabbatical providing another boost for the Brumbies.

"It is an exciting time for the organisation and I am looking forward to next season," said the Auckland-born player.

But he admitted the possibility of a return to the Wallabies squad remained a distant dream.

"I have not really thought too much about it - I will just work through each day and each game."

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