MELBOURNE : World Cup winner and Tonga coach Toutai Kefu said he and his family were grateful to be alive after they returned home from hospital on Friday following treatment for serious injuries sustained in an attack by intruders.
The 47-year-old, who played 60 tests for the Wallabies around the turn of the century, wiped away tears as he revealed details of the home invasion by knife-wielding teenagers in the early hours of Monday morning.
"I’m just grateful that we all got out, we’re alive. Might be a little bit of damage moving forward but we’re still breathing,” Kefu, wearing a large patch on his right forearm, told reporters outside his home in Brisbane.
Police have charged four teenage boys with attempted murder and other offences, alleging they carried out the attack with an axe, a knife and a machete.
Kefu said he had lost a lot of blood with his liver "nicked" in the stabbing, while his wife remained in hospital after having surgery on a deep cut to her arm.
"I don’t think she will get 100per cent use of her arm .... at one stage I think the doctor said to her if the blade was sharper it could have cut her whole arm off.
"The bone stopped the blade."
Kefu said his wife was first to discover the intruders when she heard noises and went to investigate. He jumped out of bed after hearing her scream and ran into a confrontation with the attackers.
He praised his 21-year-old son Josh, who sustained wounds to his arm and his back, for his bravery during the attack. His 18-year-old daughter also suffered cuts to her hand and arm.
"He absolutely went into beast mode,” Kefu said.
"I had the two intruders on me and he just jumped in with no fear and he copped a couple of hacks to his back, but it certainly could have been a different outcome if he didn’t turn up."
Kefu also praised a neighbour as an "absolute hero" for helping to pin down one of the attackers until police arrived.
News of the attack stunned Australian and Tongan rugby, and Kefu said he was overwhelmed by the "outpouring of love" towards his family.
"You know at times, there's outbursts of crying," he said of the mental toll.
"I think the first step for us is just getting back to the house and then we take it day-by-day.
"The kids seem to be OK, but they still need to be monitored probably moving forward.
"It's a traumatic event so it's going to be a slow process."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)