Brumbies’ Phil Thomson says Christian Lealiifano in good spirits ahead of bone marrow transplant

Christian Lealiifano will have a bone marrow transplant in Melbourne this week. Photo: Jay CronanACT Brumbies acting chief executive Phil Thomson says Christian Lealiifano is in good spirits as he prepares to undergo a bone marrow transplant in Melbourne.
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Lealiifano’s sister Sally will be the donor, with the transplant expected to take place on Wednesday or Thursday.

The 29-year-old has been in Melbourne undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia and will remain in hospital for a month and in Melbourne for 100 days after surgery.

Thomson said they were hoping for a speedy recovery from the Brumbies co-captain, but there was no time frame on how long it would take.

Lealiifano was swamped with messages of support from around the world after he was diagnosed with blood cancer in August.

Brumbies and Wallabies players, including David Pocock and Matt Toomua, shaved their heads to show their support for Lealiifano.

“He started his chemo last week and has gone through that process and now the next step will be the bone marrow [transplant], that should be taking place pretty shortly,” Thomson said.

“He’s got plenty of support down there in Melbourne, he’s in good spirits.

“It varies from case to case [how long it takes] … best-case scenario is it’s a quick process, but everyone needs to be aware it could be a long process too.”

Meanwhile, Southland Stags flyhalf Wharenui Hawera will train with the Brumbies over the next two months in a bid to earn a Super Rugby contract.

Hawera played for the Stags in this year’s ITM Cup and Thomson said the Brumbies coaching staff would have a look at him in November and December.

They will continue their search for a playmaker, with Lealiifano sidelined indefinitely and Matt Toomua having left for England.

“[Hawera] is a No.10, inside back, who’s going to train with us for the November-December period to see how he goes,” Thomson said.

“Obviously we’re still looking at our options at No.10 there. He’s coming over for an opportunity to train and we’ll assess how he goes.

“We’ve got some options that we’re looking at internally, but we also need to look at a few external options.

“He’s someone the coaching staff have identified as worthwhile having a look at.”

The Brumbies are expected to announce the signing of an outside back in the coming days.

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