Mose Masoe calls it psychological warfare. Alex McKinnon describes it as starting a new life where “you become quite lost”.
It’s the daily fight with being a paraplegic, that is about to become a financial battle.
Geographically separated by almost 17,000km, Masoe and McKinnon are now inextricably linked after both were left paralysed following devastating accidents while playing rugby league.
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The pair came together via a Zoom call on Monday as part of an international fundraising campaign to help Masoe and his family deal with the harsh financial reality he now faces.
The gentle giant and former Sydney Rooster and Penrith Panther admits “the battle has just begun.”
“It’s quite emotional for me at times for me because I’m one of those people that don’t like putting my hand up to receive help,” Masoe said on a video hook-up from the UK that also included his former Roosters coach, Trent Robinson.
Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson helping launch the ‘We Stand with Mose’ donor appeal. Picture: Toby ZernaSource:News Limited
“I’m a positive person. When my foot starting moving in the hospital I said I would come back and play the game.
“That’s the type of person I am, always trying to get better. There are always people out there that are worse off than you. I always try and think of them. I’m grateful for everyone’s help.”
On January 12 last year, when co-captaining Hull KR in a trial game against Wakefield, Masoe attempted a tackle that went wrong and left him paralysed from the shoulders down.
He battles daily but can still only take a few unaided steps. He has no sensation or dexterity in his hands and his bowel and bladder will never function normally again.
The Super League’s insurance policy has offered little compensation.
Trent Robinson with Men of League Foundation CEO Stephen Lowndes and RLPA representative Tom Symonds. Picture: Toby ZernaSource:News Limited
On Monday, The Men of League Foundation – along with manager Steve Gillis – launched a major fundraiser for Masoe through Australia and New Zealand this week. A similar campaign is being run in England over the Easter weekend.
“It’s not just physical but it’s a mental game,” said Masoe, who hopes to return home to Australia later this year.
“I call it psychological warfare in the head with the things that you can and can’t do.
“I’m grateful for the small improvements but the battle has just begun.
“The challenges ahead, I’m ready for it.”
McKinnon has been living a new life as a quadriplegic since 2014, when he suffered a catastrophic injury while playing for the Knights.
“It is quite daunting, to be completely honest,” McKinnon said of the mental struggle.
“It’s like starting a new life, it really is. Everyone’s situation is so different and no-one can give you an answer.
Former Hull KR player Mose Masoe watches from the stands in the UK. Picture: Gareth Copley/GettySource:Getty Images
“I love to be able to control things but initially, with a spinal cord injury, there’s not much you can control because you just don’t know the landscape, you don’t know the environment you’re living in.
“Initially, in hospital, it’s just so raw, frustrating. Everything is now new, you’ve got no idea. You become quite lost.”
Now 29, McKinnon and wife Teigan are expecting twins in May, after welcoming daughter Harriet into the world two years ago. It’s remarkable progress from where he was, physically and emotionally, immediately following his accident.
“I was injured at 22. I didn’t understand about a catheter bag or bowel care routine,” he said. “If the catheter bag breaks, what happens then? Or you have a bowel accident? You will enter a new world of unknowns and uncontrollables.”
McKinnon Twins coming in May 2021 ✌🏻#identicalpic.twitter.com/EsJIU0G5ug
McKinnon, whose Rise For Alex fundraising campaign netted around $1.2 million to help him afford the $100,000 annual cost of getting out of bed in the morning, stressed the importance of helping Masoe.
“When you have financial support, it gives you the opportunity to make errors, do things wrong, but also the opportunity to go again, do things right and find your own way,” McKinnon said.
“Five days ago, it was seven years since my injury. I truly believe the initial support I had and the ongoing support of the community has made me who I am today.”
Robinson coached Masoe at Bondi for five years, where it “was about making others feel good” for the big forward.
“He is happy warrior; a guy that always had the biggest smile in the room. And when he played, he had the biggest smile on the field as well,” Robinson said.
Former NRL Star Alex McKinnon has started driving a modified vehicle, made especially for him, after the tragic spinal cord injury that ended his football career in 2014….
Former NRL Star Alex McKinnon has started driving a modified vehicle, made especially for him, after the tragic spinal cord injury that ended his football career in 2014.
“He has lost his livelihood. We get to enjoy this game every weekend, and because it is a brutal game, compensation for when things go wrong isn’t the same as in normal life. Mose has fought hard to walk again but he is going to need support for the rest of his life.
“It’s time for us to support one of our own, one of our rugby league people, and support his wife (Carissa) and kids to live the life he needs to live.”
The RLPA’s Tom Symonds added: “Our role this week is to ensure the players and front and centre in driving this initiative. It might be via their own social media platform, donating themselves, getting creative on match day, dedicating a player of the match speech to Mose or writing ‘Mose’ on their wrist strapping.”
People can donate via Men of League Foundation’s Mose Masoe campaign.
Originally published asMasoe’s ‘psychological warfare’ about to turn financial
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