A Palmerston North teenager who suffered a severe neck injury during a weekend rugby game has had surgery while friends and family rally behind him.
Awatapu College year 13 student Nathanael "Nat" Manville was hurt during a secondary school premier 1-2 grading game in Pahiatua on Saturday.
The 18-year-old was injured during a ruck when playing for Awatapu College's first XV against Tararua College's first XV.
He was flown to Palmerston North Hospital before being transferred to Christchurch Hospital, where he was waiting to be moved to Burwood Hospital's spinal unit.
Manville was conscious and talking after paramedics stabilised him at the match, rescue helicopter pilot Lance Burns said.
He underwent surgery on his fifth cervical vertebrae last night, the Manawatu Rugby Union said.
The fifth cervical vertebrae of seven, known as C5, is a "significant marker" when determining the nature of neck injuries.
The Canterbury District Health Board was unable to provide an update on Manville's condition before the Manawatu Standard went to press this morning.
Awatapu principal Gary Yeatman said Manville's friends and family were rallying to support him. "As a year 13 student he was one of the key players in our first XV and he's one of those students, and the type of player, who gives it their all," he said.
"Our focus is supporting the family over the next few days and being there for them during a very difficult time."
Manville, a lock or loose forward, had played rugby since primary school, his father Darrell said.
This was his fifth year playing for Awatapu College, and his third season for the 1st XV.
"Nat's accident was one of those instances in life where he was just unlucky, there was no foul play involved.
"He is receiving the best treatment from the best people . . . at this stage the medical advice is to wait and see as it is very early, but Nat has been given the best chances available with his treatment to date.
"[We] would like to thank all the people who have helped and supported during this challenging time and in particular to the rescue helicopter and medical personnel at MidCentral Health."
Manawatu Rugby Union chief executive John Knowles said the referee and coaches at the game were preparing reports on what happened to be presented to the union today.
"Injuries worry us at any age - it is a contact sport and there's always a risk people are going to get hurt. We don't get too many of these in the game, fortunately, but from time to time they do happen," Knowles said.
"We're all just waiting to see what the outcome and the prognosis is . . . our thoughts are with the boy and his family and we hope he pulls through it OK."
The New Zealand Rugby Union and Rugby Foundation, which supports seriously injured players, have been informed.
- Manawatu Standard
Will the bus shelter walkway planned for The Square be ready by the end of June?Related story: Covered walkway for Palmerston North bus users by winter