The family of a teenage rugby player left in a coma by an alleged assault are taking his recovery "hour by hour".
Sean Robinson, 19, was flown to Wellington Hospital with a serious head injury after being allegedly assaulted by a fellow Pioneer Rugby Club player in a Masterton car park about 2.30am on Sunday.
"It's your worst nightmare because, to be honest, we could have lost him," his mother, Cynthia Duffy, said yesterday.
Robinson, who plays fullback for the club's senior team, was still in intensive care in an induced coma after an operation to reduce pressure on his brain, she said.
Support from his friends and extended family, as well as medical staff, was helping her and family members with their long vigil.
"We're just taking one step at a time, taking every hour by the hour."
As well as being a gifted rugby player, the eldest of her three sons was a "typical young adult", she said: "Cheeky one minute, a perfect little gentleman the next."
Regan Smith, 18, a wing for Pioneer's senior reserve team, appeared in Masterton District Court on Monday charged with assault. He was remanded on bail until next week.
Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Miller said police were speaking to several people aged about 19 who watched the alleged assault unfold "fairly quickly" in the car park behind the Masterton District Council building.
It followed "some sort of challenge" between the two men near the local McDonald's, and was unrelated to rugby, Miller said.
"It hasn't had anything to do with the rugby club, it's just between two young guys who happen to be rugby players."
Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union chairman Paora Ammunson called Robinson "a fantastic sportsman and a good kid". He said the region's rugby community was shocked by the incident.
"Cynthia has worked for our union and we want her to know there's a lot of aroha for her and her family . . . When something like this happens to one of our rugby whanau, it rocks us all."
A Wellington Hospital spokesman said Robinson was still in a serious condition, but had improved slightly.
- The Dominion Post