Thames rugby player may never walk again after injury

Keenan Alexander. Photo / NZ Rugby Foundation.
Keenan Alexander. Photo / NZ Rugby Foundation.

A top young rugby player may never walk again after he suffered a horror injury during a high-school first XV match last month.

The Thames community has rallied around High School student Keenan Alexander, 17, who suffered a serious spinal injury on August 6 while playing against Paeroa College and now faces the prospect of not being able to ever run onto the field again due to dislocating a vertebrae in his spine.

Thames Valley High School are calling on the local community to get behind fundraising efforts to support Alexander who was immediately airlifted to Middlemore Hospital following the incident.

"Our understanding is Keenan will be in Middlemore for another week before being transferred to the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit for two to three months of rehabilitation," Thames Valley High School Principal Dave Sim told the NZ Rugby Foundation.

"Keenan is a wonderful, strong and determined young man and the school is right behind him and his family as he prepares for intensive rehabilitation."

A local support group has been formed to lead fundraising efforts for Keenan, including setting up a Give-a-little page.

Rugby Foundation chief executive Lisa Kingi-Bon told Fairfax last month's game was like any other First XV match - competitive and physical.

"Keenan was tackled by his opposite number in the first 15 minutes of play," she said.

"It was not a high tackle, just a normal tackle, in a normal game."

The family requested privacy.

The support group are working with the New Zealand Rugby Foundation who provide support for catastrophically injured players and who will be by Keenan's side for life.

"We can't say enough about the support Keenan has received. The emergency system has been very good - within 30 minutes of the accident he was medevacked to Middlemore, was in surgery within hours and since then he's received the best care possible from the doctors and nurses," said Sim.

Close family friend John Stephenson is liaising with them daily. "This is a very tough time for Keenan and his family, they want to thank everyone for the wonderful messages of support and care."

A fundraising evening in Thames on October 15 has being developed to assist Keenan. The evening will be emceed by celebratory raconteur Miles Davis and will feature speakers Dave Rennie and Graham Mourie.

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