Determined former Hull KR star Mose Masoe taking steps on road to recovery

CONSIDERING the ordeal he has been through, it seems remarkable that Mose Masoe can say there have been “more highs than lows” during his ongoing battle.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 10/03/2019 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Wakefield Trinity v Hull KR - The Mobile Rocket Stadium, Wakefield, England - Hull KR's Mose Masoe is tackled by Wakefield's Tinirau Arona & David Fifita.

Given his innate positivity, however, perhaps it is not remarkable at all; those who know the hulking prop best always knew he was well-set to win his biggest fight yet – being able to walk once more.

It was in January that the Robins co-captain Masoe suffered a career-ending spinal injury when making an innocuous tackle during a pre-season game at Wakefield Trinity.

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The damage to his C4 and C5 vertebra was so severe the New Zealander was paralysed from the shoulders down and required emergency surgery with a warning he may never walk again.

He spent the initial few weeks of his recovery in Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital lying flat in bed unable to move.

Yet, by mid-May, he was able to post a video of himself making his first few unaided steps back in the kitchen of his family home in Hull.

We spoke yesterday ahead of his latest gruelling two-hour physio session – Masoe has three per week – and he can proudly look back on his journey so far.

“That was one of the biggest highs for myself,” the 31-year-old told The Yorkshire Post, recollecting those tentative first steps in front of elated young daughters Marlowe and Evie-Rose.

“There were always little milestones along the way as well.

“When I was lying down in bed and couldn’t move anything, I had ex-patients coming in and telling me I’d be all right.

“I looked at them and said it’d be nice just to be in a wheelchair and push myself around.

“When I got to that point it was what’s next? There’s always been progression.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 01/02/2019 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Hull KR v Hull FC - KC Lightstream Stadium, Hull, England - Mose Masoe.

“It’s been good. There’s been a lot more highs than lows.

“I’ve just been trying to stay positive and get a little movement in my fingers, then in my toes, just the little wins.

“You have to get in your mind that you can get little things back and then hopefully it adds to the bigger picture.

“I have physio sessions Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it’s been tough but they’re just pushing me in there to try and get back as much as we can.

“They say the first 18 months is really crucial to do that.”

Masoe, whose hard-running style quickly endeared him to KR fans when arriving in East Yorkshire in August 2017, radiates positivity and clearly his indefatigable spirit has been crucial in his recovery so far.

In terms of how much mobility he can recover, the former Samoa international added: “I don’t know.

“It’s one of those injuries that’s really common but different people have different symptoms so it’s hard for them to say.

“There’s a lot more research needed to see how things can progress but it’s one of those situations where you just do your best and see how much you can get back. Being a rugby player has helped. Just to know how to manage an injury. When you have your shoulder reconstructed or your knee you know there’s going to be little things you need to do to get to the final product.

“I’m still in that phase where I have to do all the little things right to get back as much as I can.”

Having ruptured his ACL, Masoe – who won the 2014 Grand Final with St Helens in his maiden Super League campaign – missed an entire season with St George-Illawarra the year before his move to the Robins.

He must have thought then that was as bad as things could get especially as he was later released without ever playing a single game.

Masoe replied: “Definitely. And that was probably my worst injury as mentally I wasn’t there.

“But I’m a bit older now and wiser – I hope – so I told myself I had to attack this and be more positive. And it’s worked.”

As for that fateful day itself, the former Sydney Roosters forward said: “I do remember it quite well. There was nothing in it. It was just a freak accident. I’ve got no regrets. At the time it was scary but when I look back now it was just something that happened and I’m just looking forward.”

He is able to do that given the loving family that surround and clearly inspire him with wife Clarissa expecting their baby boy next month.

“That’s one of the goals,” explained Masoe, who is already helping out with household chores.

“I want to just try to get back as much as I can so I can hopefully help out as much as possible and be more independent.

“Then, when the baby is here, she doesn’t have to look after me as much and I can do a lot of things around the house.”

Masoe is forever grateful to the support of the rugby league community. The Rugby League Benevolent Fund has been particularly crucial in literally helping the towering forward (Masoe stands at six foot six inches) get back on his feet.

The charity has offered financial support while ever he lives in the country and, when told at the end of March he would have to continue his rehabilitation at home due to the hospital’s need to free up beds for the coronavirus, they intervened to extend his stay.

The club, too, have been massively supportive, agreeing to honour his contract.

Masoe said: “I just want to thank everyone for their support.

“I’m trying to keep people in the loop by putting up posts about my recovery.

“There’s been so many helping me get through this time. The boys (at KR) as well.

“For the first six weeks – before Covid – there was no day there wasn’t someone in there with me. (Before lockdown) I’ve tried to repay the favour by keeping them motivated with some messages I’ve sent in ahead of some tough games and I’ve wanted to show I’m still supporting them, too.”

Wellington-born Masoe began his first-grade career with the Roosters in 2012.

He recalled: “It was awesome. Making my debut was amazing; it was one of the biggest highlights of my career just to play in NRL.

“At Roosters, there was players like Anthony Minichiello, Jared Waera-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and Frank-Paul Nu’uausala, some of whom are still there now.

“We had Shaun Kenny-Dowall, too, who’s here at KR now. It’s good to have his old head here – if I can say that!

“He’s been around the game for a long time and has a lot of experience for the young players and the team in general.

“It’s been nice to have him at KR.

“The year Sonny (Bill Williams) came to Roosters I left to go to Penrith. That’s the year Roosters won the comp’ as well.

“I had good times at Penrith, though, and then moving over here, being able to travel, play for St Helens, winning the comp’ in the first year…

“That was a massive high. I went to St George but coming back to Hull KR it has all been a good journey.”

As for the future, Masoe added: “The plan was always to move back to Australia when I was retired.

“But we actually don’t know at the minute. My whole family’s been helping me get the rehab and recovery done properly so we’re putting all our eggs in that basket and we’ll look at whether we stay or go home later.”

Whatever they decide, the inspirational Masoe and his family know they now always have a ‘home’ in East Yorkshire and with British rugby league.