Walking 'the tip of the iceberg' for Fatialofa after spinal injury

Wellington (AFP) –


Worcester lock Michael Fatialofa says his ability to walk again is "just the tip of the iceberg" as he battles back from a horrific spinal injury suffered in an English Premiership match.

The New Zealander had surgery following the injury in a game against reigning champions Saracens in January and spent more than two weeks in intensive care.

Fatialofa has spent the past three months having treatment but is now able to walk unaided.

"Walking is the tip of the iceberg with these types of injuries," the 28-year-old Auckland-born second row told New Zealand's 1 NEWS website.

"My hands are probably the hardest thing for me -- getting my hands functioning. My left hand pretty much does nothing.

"From my neck down, I couldn't feel anything or move anything."

"It was pretty scary, and I was really short of breath because, what I did, was the spinal cord was compressed and anything below the spinal cord is affected and that includes my lungs and I was just kinda trying to breathe," he explained.

Fatialofa, who helped New Zealand's Hurricanes win the 2016 Super Rugby title, said of his time in intensive care: "My room-mates were victims of gun violence and stabbings... It's a time that's tough to think about. I heard some people die next to me. It was quite traumatising."

A few weeks ago Fatialofa's wife, Tatiana, posted an Instagram video of her husband walking.

"You're witnessing a miracle that even medical professionals can't explain," she wrote.

But the coronavirus pandemic means she cannot visit her husband at the moment.

Fatialofa's contract with Worcester ends in July. He plans to complete his recovery in Britain before returning to New Zealand.