Cancer sufferer Lealiifano named as Brumbies co-captain
RUGBY UNION: Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is hopeful leukaemia-stricken Christian Lealiifano can return to training this season after naming him as club co-captain with senior lock Sam Carter.
Lealiifano - the 29-year-old Wallaby - is recovering from a bone-marrow transplant undertaken late last year and is serving as inspiration for a rebuilding Brumbies squad that is now without Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Matt Toomua and Joe Tomane.
"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, 27, replaces Moore as a co-captain and will be the Brumbies' on-field leader this season.
"It's a huge honour for me, I'm really excited about the season ahead," Carter said.
"He (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."
The Brumbies continue their pre-season preparations this weekend when they travel to Mudgee to take on the Waratahs in a trial match at Glen Willow Regional Sports Stadium.
Despite four star Wallabies moving on in the off-season, Carter said the club's internal expectations remained high.
"Nothing's really changed for us over the past couple of years - we're still training as hard as we can," he said.
"The way we've been working off the field has been huge.
"If people view it that we're not going to be that good or as good as we've been in the past, we're not seeing it that way.
"So we'll happily run with that and surprise people when we get there."