Mose Masoe is visited in hospital by NRL boss Todd Greenberg.
Mose Masoe is visited in hospital by NRL boss Todd Greenberg.

The most inspirational story in rugby league

You walk into bedroom three of ward four at the spinal unit of a Pinderfields Hospital in the north of England to find the most inspirational story in rugby league.

Mose Masoe, lying there almost motionless.

There's just a little bit of movement in his arms and one leg.

Mose has been here for six weeks since collapsing with a severe spinal injury from a tackle that went wrong while playing for Hull Kingston Rovers against Wakefield in the UK Super League.

You expect to find a deeply depressed and miserable man. Instead, he has the most positive outlook.

We are here with NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg before the World Club Challenge.

There is an ultrasound stuck on the wall that his pregnant partner had taken just last week.

It is his motivation to be out of the hospital and standing by the time the baby is born in July.

"We find out next Sunday whether it's a boy or a girl," Mose says.

 

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Mose Masoe is visited in hospital by NRL boss Todd Greenberg.
Mose Masoe is visited in hospital by NRL boss Todd Greenberg.

 

Mose already has three young children - daughters Evie Rose, 6, Marlow, 4, and a son, Benson, 12, who have been around his bedside every day since he suffered this terrible injury.

The support from family, friends, footy types and fundraisers has been overwhelming. He gives some great examples.

"There was this old lady, she was about 90, she came in the other day and she was very fragile," Mose explains.

"One of the boys Mitch Garbutt, had to push her in her wheelchair.

"She wrote me a card and put a little cheque inside for my fundraiser.

"She was coming in to visit her husband. She said, 'he's upstairs but he's going to die soon'.

"You just don't know what to say to that. With all the bad things that happen to her, she's coming into visit me? That's just so humbling."

 

Mose Masoe has a positive outlook.
Mose Masoe has a positive outlook.

 

This is a soccer-mad country where rugby league players are not as recognised.

The attention has been nothing like when Alex McKinnon suffered a similar injury in the NRL in 2014.

Yet Mose has been blown away by all the support.

Already $100,000 has been raised from club fundraisers.

He keeps rattling off stories about the complete strangers who are inspiring his recovery.

"There was this fella," he explains, "in the first two weeks that I was here and he has Parkinson's disease. He lives about a mile and a half away and he walked here.

"It's freezing outside. My partner and my kids are downstairs in the dining room. They got talking to this old man and he was sitting there for 30 minutes because he was so exhausted just from walking.

"He came here to bring me a book - it was Eddie Jones's book. He couldn't make it from the dining room to my room because he was exhausted.

"He couldn't walk home, we had to call his next-door neighbour who's a taxi driver to come pick him up. I can't believe it, aye."

Spinal specialists are still unsure about the 30-year-old's hopes of recovery.

It can often take 18 months of rehab to get the full prognosis.

Mose played 63 NRL games at the Roosters and the Panthers before joining Super League with St Helens and then his current club Hull Kingston Rovers.

 

Mose Masoe played for the Roosters in the NRL.
Mose Masoe played for the Roosters in the NRL.

 

He is a tough, hard-working middle forward, the type every team needs.

He starts talking about the life-changing moment he suffered the injury and how at first he thought he had just knocked himself out.

"You get knocked out, then you regain your consciousness," he says.

"But I open my eyes and my arms were in shock and in a spasm. I couldn't feel my legs and you think, 'this is bad'.

"My partner came in and that's when I said, 'Can you pinch me on my leg?' She pinched as hard as she could - but I couldn't feel it.

"I said, 'pinch my stomach', and I couldn't feel it there, either."

 

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The hospital here in Wakefield is the best in England for treating spinal injuries.

He has lost 20kg but his spirits are high.

Today he is laid up in bed, his head ever so slightly tilted onto a pillow.

His fingers don't work but he uses his knuckles on a touch screen to watch television and change channels. There is a jug of water with a tube for when he needs a drink.

Later this week, physiotherapists will work on getting him to sit up.

He wears special glasses with 90 degrees downward vision as part of the recovery.

"I wear them so I can see my toes," Mose said.

"It helps send a message. Because you're lying there and you're thinking 'yes, my legs are moving' and it feels like it, but they're actually not.

 

Mose Masoe has been blown away by all the support he has received.
Mose Masoe has been blown away by all the support he has received.

 

"It's your body tricking you. I put my glasses on and I can actually see what's going on. That's the biggest help. The visual cues help me."

Thankfully he says his wife and kids are doing well.

"The kids are all right," he says.

"They're loving it because they get a lot of attention. When they come in here the nurses spoil them and take them around hitting up all the desserts. And all the patients give them lollies and sweets."

As we're about to finish, he again switches the topic to others.

"I've got a cousin who has muscular dystrophy," he says.

"He's bedridden, he can't talk, he mumbles. It gives me perspective. He's still the happiest kid.

"It's things like that make me realise I'll be OK."

We get up to leave and say goodbye. You tap him on the wrist because he can't shake hands.

He is smiling and happy. A truly inspiring man.

To donate to Mose and his family, www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hull-kingston-rovers-trust


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