Twelve months on from suffering a life-changing spinal injury, inspirational rugby league forward Mose Masoe is still facing a bleak future, according to his coach.
It was on January 12 2020, that the Samoan international sustained a career-ending injury playing for Hull KR in a pre-season friendly at Wakefield.
One of three artificial discs in his neck gave way during an innocuous tackle, pinching his spinal cord, and Masoe underwent emergency surgery that night before spending the next four days in intensive care.
Initially told he may never walk again, the 6ft 6in father of four has confounded the experts by his remarkable recovery and now gets about with the aid of crutches, but major difficulties remain.
“We’ve all been inspired by the progress that he’s made but a year on it’s right to sit down and assess things and that’s what we’ve done,” Hull KR’s former Great Britain coach Tony Smith told the PA news agency.
“We’ve now got some more information in terms of insurance coverage and their assessment of whether he’s going to be able to work again.
“While he’s made terrific progress, he’s still a long way from being a position where’s he’s going to be able to provide for his family in the future.
“Physically, he may well have hit his peak and he may well regress from where he is. We all kind of expect him to keep going and that may not be the case.”
Masoe, who was born in New Zealand and played for Sydney Roosters, Penrith Panthers and St Helens before joining Rovers three years ago, has remained positive throughout his rehabilitation and that optimism is reinforced in a four-minute video released by his club in which he and partner Carissa speak without a hint of pity.
“That’s been his coping mechanism,” Smith said. “They’ve both been so positive and so strong.
“They’re also very grateful for the support they’ve been given and feel a little embarrassed by coming out and saying the future could be bleak
“He’s very proud and upbeat but at the same time they’re very worried. I had a pretty awkward conversation the other day, saying it’s time for him to tell some more of the whole story so people get the real picture.
“I think we’ve all been blinkered into thinking he’ll just keep going and he’ll make a full recovery. He’s a million miles from that and probably won’t ever get there, although I don’t want to discourage him from trying.”
Masoe received assistance from day one from the RL Cares charity and a Justgiving page has so far raised £112,000 towards a £150,000 target.
Rovers are paying the player’s salary to the end of his contract, which expires in November along with his visa, and Smith is putting together a committee to raise further funds.
“We are going to organise a few events between now and when his time finishes with Hull KR and he has to leave the country to hopefully make his life a little bit easier than the bleak future it looks at the moment,” he said.
“If he doesn’t get any help, it’s going to be bleak.”