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Mattew Rees Reveals All on Cancer Ordeal and the Many Reasons he has to Smile in his Autobiography

This week sees the publication of Reasons 2 Smile, the autobiography of Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Wales, Lions and Barbarians rugby player Matthew Rees – aka ‘Smiler’ – a key member of the Wales team which achieved momentous Grand Slams at the 2008 and 2012 Six Nations Championships and the most-capped hooker of all time for the Welsh national side.

In the book, the Cardiff Blues hooker reveals all on his battle with cancer. He noticed a lump on one of his testicles in 2013, but thought nothing of it and toured with the Barbarians that Summer. On his return he resolved to see the Wales and Cardiff Blues doctors, both saying he had nothing to worry about. But after a game against Exeter he was referred to a consultant who told he would need to remove a testicle, and then the life-changing news came on 18 October when he was told it was cancer. Following that everything changed for Matthew and his family. In his book, Matthew reveals all on the ordeal of the treatment and his fight to get healthy again, and back playing on the rugby field. He then defied all expectation and went on to win a further cap for Wales.

 His autobiography also charts the highs and lows of his rugby career, from captaining Wales during the 2011 Six Nations Championship and winning his 50th Wales cap in the match that secured the 2012 Grand Slam, to Wales’ disappointing exit from the 2007 Rugby World Cup, offering insider info from behind the scenes in Welsh rugby.  The book includes a foreword by Wales coach Warren Gatland. Gatland describes Matthew Rees as a team player who is “tough, leads by example, focused, resilient – but it keeps coming back to him being ‘just a good bloke’.”

 Sam Warburton, ex-Wales captain, also waxes lyrical about Matthew’s rugby and leadership abilities, describing him as “one of the fiercest and most determined players I have ever played with... A fantastic leader who I’ve learnt so much from, and he must surely be one of Wales’ greatest hookers.”  However, this is not just another rugby autobiography and rugby is not all there is to Matthew’s story. At age 20 he found out who his real father was – a bombshell that had a huge impact on his relationship with his family.

 He has now fully recovered from his battle with cancer and is back on the rugby field, playing for the Cardiff Blues. As fellow Wales international Gethin Jenkins says, “This book reflects the magnitude of his achievements on the field and the toughness and spirit he has shown off it in overcoming every obstacle thrown in his way.” Martyn Williams, former Wales and British and Irish Lions international rugby union player, seconded this, saying “Smiler has more of an interesting story to tell than your average international rugby player. Determined and tough on and off the pitch, in Reasons 2 Smile he charts his incredible journey and how he’s tackled the challenges that life’s thrown at him.”

 This autobiography is an uplifting, inspirational story which rugby fans and non-rugby fans alike will enjoy.  A percentage of the royalties will be donated to Velindre Cancer Centre, a specialist NHS cancer treatment centre on the outskirts of Cardiff which has been providing care, support and treatment to cancer patients and their families for over 60 years. The centre provides services to people across south east Wales and beyond, treating over 5,000 new referrals and around 50,000 outpatients every year. Donations fund care beyond what is provided by the NHS, so fundraising makes a huge difference to patients and their families. The autobiography was co-written by Craig Muncey.

Matthew Rees started his professional career at Pontypridd, moving on to Celtic Warriors at the beginning of the regional era. After they went bust, Matthew spent nine seasons at Scarlets, captained Wales and toured with the British and Irish Lions. He still plays for Cardiff Blues and is the most-capped hooker ever for Wales. Craig Muncey has written sports articles for websites such as Y Ddraig, These Football Times, The Football Pink, Empire Of The Kop, Top Class Boxing and The Rugby Magazine. This is his first book.