WALES and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees has been given the all clear to return to full-time training after treatment for testicular cancer.
Blues announced in October last year that the 33-year-old former British Lions star was to have an enforced spell away from rugby to undergo treatment at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff.
But the region has now confirmed that, following screening and testing, Rees has been given the all clear by specialists and does not require further medical treatment.
A statement from the Blues said: “Matthew will now start a full-time training programme at Blues as he regains his match fitness with a view to return to rugby.”
And a delighted Rees said: “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.
“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.”
Rees also paid tribute to supporters and sponsors who have raised over £15,000 for the Velindre Hospital through donations and by purchasing 'Smile For Your Captain' wristbands.
"It's been fantastic to see so much money raised and really humbling for me,” he added.
Blues director of rugby Phil Davies said: “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.
“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.”