Alicia Newton | NRL.com | 29th March 2021
Alex McKinnon and Trent Robinson have joined forces with the NRL, RLPA and the Men of League Foundation to encourage players and fans across the game to donate to Mose Masoe’s rehabilitation journey.
The “We stand with Mose” fundraising appeal was launched in Sydney on Monday with Robinson and McKinnon among those in attendance to offer support to Masoe, who suffered a catastrophic spinal injury during a trial game playing for Hull KR in January, 2020.
Masoe, who had stints with the Roosters, Panthers and the Dragons during his playing career, faces a difficult journey for the rest of his life with insurances in the UK not enough to cover the challenges he will face.
His extended family remain in Australia and New Zealand with current international border restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic meaning the 31-year-old has been limited with his recovery.
Past and present players, fans and officials involved in the game have been asked to help raise awareness by donating, encouraging donations or either dedicating try celebrations and speeches to the former NRL player.
“It’s absolutely humbling as a person and as a player to get this support,” Mose said via video link from the UK as part of the launch in Sydney.
"I’m doing well, I’m working hard for the small improvements that I need. The battle has just begun, the challenges ahead I’m ready for but it’s going to be tough.
"It’s not just a physical game but a mental one - I call it psychological warfare around the things you can and can’t do.
“I just want to thank the game for doing this for me.”
Masoe paid special tribute to his partner, Carissa Crews, who has become his full-time carer, providing daily assistance with tasks such as personal hygiene and going to the toilet, as his and bladder and bowels do not function naturally.
The couple has three young children - daughters Evie-Rose, Marlowe and son Lui, who was born last year.
“[Carissa] is a trooper, I am really lucky,” Masoe said.
"She is the nurse, the physio, the chauffeur and the teacher.
“Because we’ve been in lockdown for the past year she has had to do home schooling and because some nurses couldn’t come she had to be my nurse. She has been awesome.”
While Masoe maintained a brave face throughout the launch, McKinnon painted a far clearer image of the struggles the Samoan international would be going through, based on his own personal experiences.
McKinnon’s spinal injury rocked the NRL and Australian sport in 2014, with the game coming together for the “Rise For Alex” round that raised over $1.1 million for the Knights forward.
I call it psychological warfare around the things you can and can’t do.
It is hoped a similar amount of money can be raised for Masoe across both hemispheres.
“When you have a spinal injury there’s not much you can control because you just don’t know the landscape or the environment you’re living in,” the former Dragons and Knights forward said.
"Initially in the hospital to start with it’s just so raw because everything is so new and you actually become quite lost and you can identify routines on things you can’t control.
"You’re faced with things you thought you’d never be faced with before and you don’t hear of them.
"As a 22-year-old I never heard of a catheter bag or bowel care routine or someone who comes over in the morning and gets you out of bed and into the shower because you can’t do it yourself.
“You don’t know about if the catheter bag breaks or you have a bowel accident, then what happens there? Mose’s situation at the moment he is consigned to his house, he’s with his family.”
Robinson, who spent time with Masoe at the Roosters between 2008-2010, encouraged all fans to donate through the Men of League Foundation.
“It’s hard for Mose to put his hand up because he is the guy who made everyone else happy,” Robinson said.
"We ask our players to go out and play a sport we love to watch because of the brutality which they play at.
“It’s time for us to support one of our own. To support his wife and kids and allow him to live the life he needs to live.”
To donate to the ‘We stand with Mose’ fund, visit Men of League.