Christian Lealiifano’s performance at the World Cup has seen him shortlisted for a trophy at the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards. After a three-year absence during which he was dealing with a leukaemia diagnosis, the player is in the running for Comeback of the Year.
The 32-year old, who currently plays with the NTT Communications Shining Arcs in Japan’s Top League, is in some good company. Global sports giants like British Tennis player Andy Murray, or Sir Andrew Barron Murray OBE as he is more formally known, American Basketball player Kawhi Lenoard of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, and swimmer Nathan Adrian, also from the USA, have also all been nominated.
Lealiifano received his leukaemia diagnosis in 2016, just a few months after his son Jeremih was born. He underwent months of treatment for it, missing most of the Super Rugby season of 2017. But the flyhalf has made his return, playing some of the finest Rugby he ever has in recent seasons, which is why he was not just welcomed back by the Wallabies, the first choice 10 in the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and now up for a Laureus.
Dan McKellar, coach of the Brumbies, paid tribute to the player and the impact of the struggles he has faced with the illness recently. He called Lealiifano’s comeback tremendous and said that he knows that the player himself will also be able to look back at this part of his life proudly one day.
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