The date of January 12, 2020 will be forever etched in the mind of Mose Masoe.
It was the day Masoe suffered a life-changing spinal injury following a seemingly innocuous tackle in Hull Kingston Rovers’ pre-season encounter with Wakefield Trinity, leaving doctors fearing he would never walk again.
One year on, the Samoa international is able to walk with crutches and even take some steps unaided. His remarkable progress has made him an inspiration for many as well, although Masoe is still trying to overcome daily challenges.
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“It’s weird getting up out of bed,” Masoe told Sky Sports News. “It’s quite funny, it’s like I become part of the bed when I go to bed.
“I just sink into the bed and waking up in the morning I can hear everything crack. So, it takes a bit of time getting out of bed and a bit of motivation, a bit of talking to myself in the morning trying to get myself out of bed.
“It’s all right after that, but it’s just that initial getting up and trying to move.”
Masoe is still as upbeat as he has been throughout the weeks and months since he began his recovery, but everything is not as straightforward as it may first appear.
A loss of some dexterity in his hands means the 31-year-old is unable to hold a pen or type on a computer keyboard. He is unable to feel the cold from his neck down and his bodily functions have been affected, while the great unknown is whether he has hit the peak in terms of his recovery.
The injury brought Masoe’s rugby career to a premature end as well and while Hull KR have continued paying him for the remainder of his contract, that expires at the end of the year. Once it finishes, so does his visa which means he and his family will have to leave the UK.
Rovers head coach Tony Smith is determined not to let Masoe’s plight be forgotten about. He and the club are putting together a committee to come up with fundraising plans for the year ahead and hopes those who have the capacity to help can come to the fore in the forward’s hour of need.
“It’s an incredible achievement to get to where he has got to,” Smith told Sky Sports News. “He was told he would never walk again, and to be able to get up and, at times, take some unaided steps is quite remarkable.
It’s an incredible achievement to get to where he’s got to. He was told he would never walk again, and to be able to get up and, at times, take some unaided steps is quite remarkable.
Tony Smith on Mose Masoe
“He has inspired all of us. I wish that was all the story and that we could stand here and say that’s how it’s going to continue, but we can’t.
“What we’re doing now is realising we need to help, and those people around him and those he has touched in a positive way need to help him in some respects.
“He’s a little embarrassed about all this and feels awkward about it, but at the same time he’d do it for other people.”
Masoe has received support from the Rugby League Cares charity ever since he suffered the injury, while a JustGiving page set up by Hull KR’s community trust in conjunction with the RFL Benevolent Fund has so far raised over £113,000.
It’s quite scary to think about those things because I don’t know how far I’m going get with my recovery, but we’ll see when we get there.
At present, Masoe’s wife Carissa is serving as his full-time carer along with looking after their five-month-old baby and two other young children, but the family are only able to afford that due to Rovers honouring his contract.
“My wife is a cook, cleaner, teacher, nurse, carer – she’s everything,” Masoe said. “We’re very lucky at the moment to have her home because financially we’re able to do that with the club helping out.
“After this year, it’s going to be a big task because we have to go back to getting a normal job.
“It’s quite scary to think about those things because I don’t know how far I’m going get with my recovery, but we’ll see when we get there.”
Masoe has been in the thoughts of rugby league fans in East Hull and beyond throughout the past year, including his name and No 10 being on displayed banners at Super League games alongside the No 7 of Leeds Rhinos great Rob Burrow, who is battling motor neurone disease.
He is grateful for all of the support and well-wishes he has received, and while there are many unknowns ahead for Masoe his focus at present is on continuing to make progress with his recovery – no matter how big or small a step it is.
“You’ve got to have things to work towards,” Masoe said. “The end goal is to hopefully be able to walk around with no crutches or aid.
“But the little goal at the moment is just learning how to try to get up off the ground if, for instance, I fell over. That’s the short-term goal in the next couple of months and, fingers crossed, I can hopefully get off the ground.
“Initially it didn’t look good when the accident happened but where I am today, I’m happy where I’ve got now and I’ve had a lot of help along the way.”
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