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‘So much courage’: Blues blown away by teammate’s cancer comeback

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 May 2024, 11:14am
Cameron Suafoa. Photo / Photosport
Cameron Suafoa. Photo / Photosport

‘So much courage’: Blues blown away by teammate’s cancer comeback

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 May 2024, 11:14am

The Blues haven’t held back in their admiration for teammate Cameron Suafoa, who will make his return from receiving treatment for cancer against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.  

Last month, the 25-year-old lock took a break from Super Rugby, in order to focus completely on his treatment.  

In 2023, a sarcoma tumour was found in Suafoa’s back, before it was promptly removed, followed by radiation therapy in March of this year.  

But that didn’t stop Suafoa by any means. Already this year, he’s played two Super Rugby matches, starting against the Hurricanes and coming off the bench against the Waratahs, away in Sydney, both while undergoing treatment. 

However, after completing treatment in April, Suafoa will wear the No 20 when the Blues take to the field on Friday, and complete one of the most incredible comebacks the competition has ever seen. 

And while the Blues are full of admiration for their teammate’s comeback, seeing him back on the field so soon is testament to Suafoa’s character. 

“He’s a kid that didn’t want any special treatment when we all found out about it,” said Dalton Papali’i. 

“He was still getting treatment while playing, he wasn’t missing a beat at training as well. Then he got the weeks off to get a little bit better. 

“It [takes] a lot of resilience for him to do what he’s been doing. It shows so much courage by him coming back into the fold and wanting to play. 

“All the boys are around him, he just got itchy feet going through it all. Once he got over it, he’s come back and is keen to get stuck in. 

“It just shows the resilience and courage from him to really get through that and be with us fulltime.” 

Despite being on the bench, assistant coach Craig McGrath outlined there will be no restrictions on how involved Suafoa will be against the Rebels, and his return comes after personal insistence to coach Vern Cotter. 

Dalton Papali'i and Cameron Suafoa. Photo / PhotosportDalton Papali'i and Cameron Suafoa. Photo / Photosport 

New Zealand rugby annals are littered with players going above and beyond, and disregarding their own health for their teammates. 

Be it Sir Buck Shelford losing a testicle against France in 1986, to Richie McCaw winning the 2011 World Cup with a broken foot, you don’t have to look far for examples. 

Suafoa, though, takes things to another level. 

While there are plenty of examples of players pushing through pain and physical harm, rarely is it life-threatening. 

For Papali’i, that serves as inspiration in a season where the Blues appear well placed to end a wait for silverware now into its third decade. 

“You talk about the tough bastards in sport, they do all the big hits, big runs and get into contact,” he continued. 

“But seeing that, that shows true courage and real toughness. To go through all that treatment, and still be showing up day in, day out, training with us and putting his best foot forward, I don’t think I could do that. 

“He’s shown no weakness in his face, he’s just carried on with it. I look up to that. 

“I’m close with him too. It was special to see now how he’s come through it and he’s just not missing a beat. 

“It’s like he never left.” 

Alex Powell is an Online Sports Editor for the NZ Herald. He has been a sports journalist since 2016, and previously worked for both Newshub and 1News. 

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald here. 

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