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Cancer survivor Lealiifano on loan to Ulster

SYDNEY

Cancer survivor Christian Lealiifano will continue his return to rugby with a loan spell at Irish province Ulster in the newly-reformed PRO14 competition, his ACT Brumbies club said on Monday.

The Wallaby fly-half, 29, who was diagnosed with leukaemia last year and had a bone marrow transplant, returned to playing last month in the Brumbies’ Super Rugby quarter-final loss to the Wellington Hurricanes in Canberra.

Lealiifano, who has scored 796 points for the Brumbies, is using his Ulster playing stint to return fully to Super Rugby in 2018.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of playing for Ulster in the PRO14 on this short-term loan deal,” he said.

“Having missed almost an entire season whilst recovering, I feel that it’s important that I get some minutes playing competitive rugby ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season and Ulster have provided a great environment for me to do that.”

New Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar said the loan spell will benefit Lealiifano looking ahead to the next Super Rugby campaign.

“On field, it is about Christian getting an opportunity to play professional rugby for a good club in a very strong competition,” McKellar said.

“Off field, it is about Christian and his family getting the chance to experience a new culture and enjoy new life experiences that he was unfortunately denied 12 months ago.”

“He has trained very hard with us whilst recovering and is in excellent shape.”

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