Player's family 'blown away' by support
All Blacks greats are among the hundreds of people expected to attend a fundraising dinner for injured Awatapu College rugby player Nat Manville tonight.
Manville, 18, fractured his fifth cervical vertebra in his neck during a ruck while playing for the school's first XV in May.
He was moved to a specialty spinal unit at Burwood Hospital in Christchurch in June after a month in intensive care.
He has been undergoing rehabilitation since and is expected to stay at Burwood until December.
His family has been closely monitoring his recovery and his mother, Brenda, is now living in Christchurch to be near her son.
Tonight Brenda and Darrell, Manville's father, as well as his siblings Jess and Michael, uncle Aaron and a number of other family members, will be at a fundraising event at the Palmerston North Convention Centre.
Joining them is a list of well-known rugby identities, including coaches Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith, former All Blacks Andy Leslie and Colin Meads, TV commentator Keith Quinn and Hurricanes Brad Shields and John Schwalger. Aaron Manville said routine was returning to the family's life and people's encouragement and help had overwhelmed them.
"The whole family have been really blown away by the support everyone has offered; it's been hard to get our heads around it," he said.
"There's been lots of people from all kinds of walks [of life] that have come out to help and it's been very humbling."
Manville's recovery was coming along, with the family celebrating each step as it came, Aaron Manville said.
His nephew's rehabilitation programme includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy gym sessions and speech-language work.
Manville was spending up to seven hours a day sitting upright, a sign of progress, and has been able to leave the hospital's grounds in a powered chair.
His first trip out was to watch the Super Rugby clash between the Crusaders and the Highlanders from a sideline spot earlier in the month.
Manville has had messages and visits from rugby players such as Andy Ellis, Sam Whitelock, Beauden Barrett and Conrad Smith, as well as receiving signed Hurricanes and Crusaders jerseys.
The dinner and auction, organised by the Manawatu Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Foundation, has more than 300 people confirmed, with inquiries still coming in last night, union chief executive John Knowles said.
Tonight's event "is great for Nat, but he's got a long haul ahead and if we can help, that's great".