Front-row union: Stephen Moore meets Dom Punch. ACT Brumbies captain Stephen Moore has played at three World Cups, is the Wallabies captain and one of the most respected figures in world rugby, but the positivity of a club rugby hooker with a broken neck has put his career in perspective.
Moore was left blown away by Dom Punch when he visited the former Maitland Blacks rake in a Sydney hospital two weeks ago as he continues his recovery from a spinal dislocation and fracture at C5 and C6 and spinal cord compression.
Punch suffered a serious spinal injury when a scrum collapsedon him in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union second-grade grand final last year as Moore and the Wallabies were ramping up their bid for World Cup glory.
Punch is a quadriplegic, with movement of his shoulders and some motion in his arms, but none in his hands.
So Moore had no hesitation accepting an invitation to visit Punch in the Brumbies’ bye week and present him with a trophy for his 150 games of service to the Blacks.
Punch’s situation resonated with Moore, who has watched two of his Brumbies teammates retire from rugby with serious injuries in recent years.
First it was Pat McCabe, who broke his neck three times in three seasons, and last week it wasIta Vaea, who was told bydoctors his health was at riskif he continued to play with a heart condition.
“It’s a terrible thing to see happen on the footy field but everyone just has to get around [Punch] now,” Moore said.
“The positivity that he had just blew me away when I was there. He’s in a wheelchair for his life and his approach to it really struck a chord with me.
“Hopefully I can keep in touch with him and get him down to a [Wallabies] training session. He’s talking about going from a motorised chair to pushing one, to hear that positivity from someone in that situation blows you away.”
Moore hopes to organise for Punch to join the Wallabies at training in Sydney during the mid-year Test series against England.
He is also keen to help raise awareness and funds for Punchas his family modifies their home for when he is given the all clear to leave hospital in Sydney.
“That could happen to anyone of us on the field, so it hits home. The older you get, the more perspective you have on life,” Moore said.
“I think that helps you, everyone needs that. When you see someone like Ita having to retire, it’s just an example of how quickly it can all be over. You’ve got to make the most of it while you can.”
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