Former Sydney Roosters forward Mose Masoe keeps spirits up after spinal injury

“Pinch my stomach,” he said.

Again, she pinched as hard as she could — nothing.

“That was when, for the next five minutes, I had a bit of a moment,” Masoe, 30, explains in his first interview since the accident six weeks ago. “But then I realised it could’ve been worse …”

Masoe’s positivity comes shining through when you walk into his room in the spinal injury ward at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield in England’s north.

Even when he’s recalling the tackle that changed his life and that of his young family, he is putting everyone else at ease with his signature calmness and sense of humour.

“First, I thought I just knocked myself out and thought, ‘What an idiot’,” Masoe, 30, says with a chuckle. “I was just lying there. When you get knocked out, you regain your consciousness and I was thinking, ‘I just knocked myself out’. I opened my eyes and my arms were flapping around. I was trying to regain them — but I couldn’t. I couldn’t feel my legs. My arms were in shock, spasming. I thought, ‘This is bad’.”

Since then, and especially so after having surgery, he’s regained some of the feeling in his arms and hands, although he can’t use his fingertips.

This sounds weird but I reckon my worst injury was my knee. That really got me down when I was at the Dragons. I was contemplating retiring then. So this is the second worst

Mose Masoe

“When I woke up in the morning [after surgery], I had a flicker in my right wrist,” he says. “So I kept moving it. The next day, I had a little bit of movement in my left hand and slowly over time it has come back.

“That’s massive because a lot of guys don’t have any movement for months. I’ve spoken to guys who are past patients. Some guys had the accident 30 years ago and they didn’t get any movement for six months.”

On Monday, he will be allowed to sit up for the first time. The long-term prognosis from the doctors? He doesn’t know.

“It’s a hard thing with spinals because it’s all unknown,” Masoe says. “Someone can have the exact same injury as me, same part of my neck, but have totally different side effects.”

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg visits Mose Masoe at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.Credit:Andrew Webster

Perhaps the most perplexing part of all this is the tackle that caused the damage was the same innocuous tackle he’s been making since he was a boy running around the wet playing fields of Wellington, New Zealand, before Roosters recruitment guru Arthur Beetson spotted him as a 17-year-old.

“I’ve seen a replay of the tackle,” Masoe says. “You know how you can drop your iPhone a hundred times and it doesn’t crack, but that one time you drop it perfectly and it shatters? That’s how it felt. The doctor said that was the perfect way to hurt it. I went up high, and I hyperextended my neck. There was a little bit of pressure on the top and it was just gone. I could’ve made that tackle a hundred times and not hurt myself. It was just that one time. Just a freak accident.”

Then Masoe floors you when he says this: “This sounds weird but I reckon my worst injury was my knee. That really got me down when I was at the Dragons. I was contemplating retiring then. So this is the second-worst.”

The reason for his positivity and perspective can be found in the pictures on the walls near his bed, including photos of his son Benson, 12, and daughters Evie-Rose, 6, and Marlowe, 4.

There’s also an ultra-sound of the baby Carissa will have in July.

“I want to walk again,” he says. “There’s a lot of milestones that are coming up and I want to be there for them.”

He is also buoyed by the enormous support he’s received, from fragile 90-year-old women dropping in little cheques of support to another man with Parkinson’s Disease walking two miles to give him a copy of a book to read.


“It’s incredible, these are complete strangers, doing these things for me,” he says. “I can’t believe it.”

Earlier this week, Roosters coach Trent Robinson, captain Boyd Cordner and assistant Craig Fitzgibbon attended a fundraiser in Hull for Masoe.

And before their World Club Challenge win against St Helens, Roosters players wore warm-up shirts with “Mose” on the back as well as his customary No.8. They were signed and will be auctioned off shortly.

Donations can also be made online where more than $100,000 has already been raised:

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