Lealiifano announces Brumbies departure at season’s end
Photo: AJF Photography
Fan favourite Christian Lealiifano has called time on his Brumbies career, announcing that he will be leaving the club for Japan at the end of the current Super Rugby season after 12 years in the nation’s capital.
He has amassed 148 caps in that time, captaining his side on 46 occasions. Only Ben Mowen (51), and George Gregan (47), have led the Brumbies onto the field for more matches. He also came through a well-publicised battle with leukaemia to return to rugby last season, and earn a recall to the international scene with his presence at the recent Wallabies training camp ahead of the Rugby World Cup, to be played in Japan later this year.
“This was a difficult decision for me and I would like to thank the Brumbies for their support throughout my time at the club,” said Leali’ifano. “The Brumbies mean a lot to me and my family, and they have given me so much. I love Canberra and the community, as it’s my home and will always hold a special place in my heart.
“The players, staff, members and supporters have been behind me every step of the way since my debut and I am grateful and thankful for their unconditional support. I leave with many amazing memories and friendships which I will cherish.
“The support that the Canberra public gave me and my family through a difficult time in my life will never be forgotten,” he added. “I believe this club has a bright future under Dan and his coaching staff and look forward to following that progress. We still have much to play for this season as well, starting with our Quarter Final against the Sharks on Saturday evening, and I am fully focused on doing my best to help us reach the next stage.”
Head coach Dan McKellar was naturally disappointed to lose his captain, and such a popular figure in the dressing room. But wished the 31-year-old all the best on the next chapter of his career.
“We are sad to see Christian move on but we are very grateful to have had such a quality person at our club for so long,” he stated. “Christian has been a huge part of the Brumbies for 12 years now. His contribution both on field and off field have been enormous.
“Christian the player, has been so important for us, his fearlessness, his direction, his leadership, particularly this year. He’s grown so much as a leader in my time here, but Christian the person is what makes him who he is. You will not meet a more selfless person then Christian Lealiifano.
To go through what he went through, and to comeback and still find time to lead and care for those around him, to be there for his teammates, he’s an incredible person. He should be very proud of the legacy he leaves at the Brumbies. We wish Christian, his family all the best for his future in Japan and beyond.”
Lealiifano has a chance to lead his team to a Super Rugby semi-final with victory over the Sharks on Saturday evening. Kick-off is at 8.05pm at GIO Stadium in Canberra.