Christian Lealiifano gets high fives from his teammates while being taken off injured after the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Waratahs at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
The ACT Brumbies are determined to follow the wishes of injured flyhalf Christian Lealiifano and ensure their impressive Super Rugby campaign doesn't go to waste.
Lealiifano will have surgery today on a suspected broken ankle sustained in the final minute of the Brumbies' 23-6 win against the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
The 24-year-old is expected to be out of action for the next six months, ruling him out of the rest of the Brumbies' season and ending any chance of a possible Wallabies debut.
Several Brumbies players, including Matt Toomua, Pat McCabe, Ben Alexander and Fotu Auelua, visited Lealiifano in hospital yesterday as the talented playmaker comes to grips with the severity of his injury.
Lealiifano tweeted yesterday: ''To everyone. Thank you sooo much for the well wishes. Ill be ok and back for brums as soon as i can. Much love to all. Thanks again xo.''
Alexander said Lealiifano was as good as could be expected after his ankle got caught underneath a Waratahs player.
Play was held up for several minutes while a medicab was brought on to the ground, with the Brumbies huddling around Lealiifano to sing their victory song after the game.
''He's in as high spirits as you could hope for but he's obviously pretty down,'' Alexander said.
''He wanted to sing the song, it was the least we could do for him.
''He's trying to remain positive and he knows he'll come back bigger and better next year.''
The Brumbies have charged to the top of the Australian conference, winning six of their first 10 games to hold a nine-point gap on the Waratahs and the Queensland Reds ahead of this weekend's bye.
And with three of their final six matches coming against teams in the bottom four of the overall standings - the Melbourne Rebels, the Western Force and the Auckland Blues - the Brumbies are in the box seat to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
It's a dramatic change of fortunes for a club which won just four games a year ago.
''He [Lealiifano] wouldn't want us to drop our bundle after all the good work we've done over the past 10 weeks,'' Alexander said. ''He'll be even more disappointed if we throw in the towel.''
With Lealiifano and Toomua - who ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in round six - sidelined for the rest of the season, the Brumbies will need to call on either Robbie Coleman or Zach Holmes at flyhalf.
Coleman's versatility has been a major asset off the bench in the past weeks.
The Queanbeyan product is equally at home in the centres or at fullback, but is also more than capable with the No.10 on his back.
Holmes has had limited opportunities in his first season at the Brumbies, the former Australian sevens representative making two appearances off the bench.
''We're confident whoever they pick will do a good job,'' Alexander said.
''The way Christian had been playing, it was unbelievable, he was setting the back line alight.
''It's up to the whole squad to lift their game, not just the 10 who comes in there.''