Aussie rugby star’s beautiful milestone with son
Australian rugby great Christian Leali’ifano said he was “shaking” with emotion before landing a special kick to bring up 1000 points in Super Rugby.
The former Wallabies playmaker now plies his trade with the Auckland-based Moana Pasifika and became just the seventh player to achieve the milestone after Dan Carter, Morne Steyn, Beauden Barrett, Elton Jantjies, Bernard Foley and Stirling Mortlock.
But making the moment much more poignant was the fact that Leali’ifano’s son ran out his kicking tee – and that the 34-year-old became the first Pasifika player to crack the 1000 mark.
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“Blown away, a really special moment,” Leali’ifano told Sky Sport after Moana Pasifika’s 26-20 loss to the Waratahs in Auckland on Saturday night.
“To see my little man, he’s my ‘why’ and my whole reason I play the game.
“Oh man, that’s unreal. It’s an amazing achievement and then put the pressure on to have to hit the kick, man, with my little man out there running the tee.
Former Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler joked that it wasn’t Leali’ifano’s cleanest strike at goal.
“I was shaking man, pretty nervous out there,” Leali’ifano agreed.
“I just had to sort of poke at it and hopefully it went over. Lucky it was in front.”
Former Brumbies star Leali’ifano played 26 Tests for the Wallabies between 2013-19 and had a stint in Japan before returning to his birth city Auckland.
The second stage of his career has been nothing short of remarkable, overcoming leukaemia before returning to the park after receiving a bone marrow transplant.
That achievement earned Leali’ifano the distinction of being a finalist in the prestigious Laureus world comeback of the year award in 2020.
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Moana Pasifika are last on the ladder in their debut season but have had the deck stacked against them with repeated COVID-19 forced rescheduling.
They will play fellow expansion club Fijian Drua in Sydney on Saturday on what promises to be another special afternoon for rugby.
“We’re really excited, it’s going to be an awesome occasion next week, a bit of fire meeting fire,” Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger said.