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Larkham sidelined after growth op

Larkham will be out of action for a month following his operation

SYDNEY, Australia -- Wallaby flyhalf Stephen Larkham has had a cancerous growth removed from his leg and will be sidelined for four weeks.

Larkham, a member of Australia's 1999 and 2003 World Cup sides, had the melanoma removed from behind his left knee on Saturday.

The surgery was just a day after the Australian playmaker helped the injury-hit ACT Brumbies to their third successive Super 12 win of the season, against the Stormers.

Larkham said he had been concerned about the growth since 2003 and had a biopsy carried out four weeks ago.

"Playing football wasn't really my main concern, it would have been life," Larkham told reporters. "My main concern was making sure I survived."

Larkham, who will need tests performed every six months for the rest of his life, said he had always been diligent in checking moles but would be even more careful in applying sunscreen.

He said more test results were due at the end of the week but he was confident the cancer had been caught in time. "The doctors seem pleased with the preliminary results, which is a real relief," he said.

He is hoping to resume training this week and return for the Brumbies' Super 12 match against New Zealand's Highlanders in Dunedin on April 8.

"I'm hoping to be back in a month, there's a fair amount of stitches in the back of my leg and because it's on the crease, it's going to take a little bit longer to heal and there's probably no reason to push it at this stage," Larkham said.

Fellow Wallaby Matt Giteau is due to return from injury to take Larkham's place at flyhalf against the Cats in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Larkham, 30, has played 76 tests for Australia. He made his debut against Wales in 1996.

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