Surgery for injured rugby player

Injured Palmerston North rugby player Nathanael ''Nat'' Manville is breathing on his own after undergoing major surgery.

The 18-year-old suffered a severe neck injury in a ruck when playing for Awatapu College's first XV against Tararua College's first XV in Pahiatua on Saturday.

The year-13 Awatapu student was flown to Christchurch Hospital, where he underwent surgery on Sunday.

He is in a general ward where is coming out of a sedated state, Manawatu Rugby Union chief executive John Knowles said.

Manville fractured his fifth cervical vertebrae, which is known as C5. There are seven cervical vertebrae located below the skull and C5 is a ''significant marker'' when determining the nature of neck injuries.

Bone was grafted from his hip and used on the fractured vertebrae. The fracture was ''incomplete'', which was a good sign because the bone was not entirely broken, Knowles said.

Plates were inserted at the fourth and sixth cervical vertebrae to provide support and the intubation tube was removed from his throat, meaning Manville was breathing on his own.

Manville was awaiting a move to Burwood Hospital's spinal unit later in the week.

The Canterbury District Health Board said Manville was in a serious but stable condition.

His father and mother, Darrell and Brenda, as well as his uncle, Aaron, were in Christchurch with him.

They have created a Facebook page called ''Nat Manville Road to Recovery'', where friends and family haved posted messages of support.

''He is responding well to treatment,'' they wrote. ''Please continue to pray for further swelling of the spinal cord [to go down] and clearing of the lungs.''

Knowles has been in regular contact with the Manvilles and the New Zealand Rugby Foundation, which supports seriously injured players.

The foundation has provided support for the family, which included bringing in former All Black Tane Norton to meet them.

''We feel for them, and we do have some concerns for the family, and for the boy as well, but I think they're getting all the support they can possibly get at this stage,'' Knowles said.

''His treatment is going well and it sounds as if there's hope.''

A report from the referee and coaches looking into what happened at the game has been was presented to Manawatu Rugby Union, which has since passed it on to the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Manville, a lock or loose forward, had played rugby since primary school, was in his fifth year playing for Awatapu College, and his third season for the 1st XV.

Darrell Manville has said his son was receiving the best treatment available and thanked those who have supported the family during the challenging time.

The Dominion Post