Cardiff Blues captain Matthew Rees to return training after cancer battle
Cardiff Blues captain Matthew Rees is to resume full-time training after being given the all clear following treatment for testicular cancer
Matthew Rees will return to full-time training after overcoming his battle with testicular cancer, Cardiff Blues have confirmed.
The 33-year-old hooker and former Wales captain has been given the all clear by specialists and will not require further medical treatment as he bids to make a return to professional rugby.
I’ve been truly overwhelmed by the good luck messages I have received from the rugby world
“It is a massive weight off my shoulders and while there has always been light at the end of the tunnel for me during difficult times this is the news I always wanted to hear,” Rees said.
“Now I’ve been given the all clear I can concentrate on getting back to match fitness and hopefully I can play a part towards the end of this season for the Blues.
“I’ve been truly overwhelmed by the good luck messages I have received from the rugby world and the fantastic support I’ve had from my friends, family, my team-mates and staff at Cardiff Blues and the WRU throughout my treatment. It has meant a huge amount to me.
“I also want to pay a special thank you to everyone at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff, in particular the specialists and nurses on the Princess Margaret Ward for everything they have done for me.”
The Blues announced in October last year that Rees, who joined the club from rivals Scarlets for the start of the 2013-14 season was to take an enforced spell away from rugby to undergo treatment at Velindre in Cardiff, the hospital of which Blues team-mate and current Wales captain Sam Warburton is a patron.
Blues director of rugby, Phil Davies, added: “On behalf of all the players, coaches and staff at the Blues, we are absolutely delighted for Matthew that he’s come through this ordeal. He has shown an amazing resilience and mental toughness throughout such a difficult time.
“Matthew has continued to train, with our strength and conditioning staff throughout his treatment, which is testament to his strength of character and ability to overcome adversity. Not many people could have done that while remaining so positive and determined.
“We are all now all looking forward to seeing him back on the training field and on the field in a Cardiff Blues jersey in the future. This news is a massive boost to everyone, but nobody more than Matthew and his family.”
In their efforts to support Rees, known as Smiler since his days at Pontypridd, and Velindre Hospital, the Blues raised donations through the sale of ‘Smile for your captain’ wristbands and players and backroom staff shaved their heads in December ahead of their derby fixture against Newport Gwent Dragons after securing more than £10,000 to their Just Giving charity page.
“It’s been fantastic to see so much money raised and really humbling for me,” added Rees.
“So much positive awareness has been raised and a large sum of money will now go to the inspiring and life-changing work of the Velindre Hospital.”
The Welsh region is still collecting donations for Velindre at www.justgiving.com/Cardiff-Blues