Whanganui's Jacob Spooner knows more than most of us about facing challenges, but you won't catch him feeling sorry for himself or moping around.

After more than two years of daily training, hard work and commitment, Spooner has achieved his goal of being selected for the WheelBlacks, New Zealand's national wheelchair rugby side.

More than nine years ago Spooner's life was changed forever.

A terrible workplace accident had left the then 18 year old paralysed, understandably angry and struggling to come to terms with his circumstances.


"It took some time to wrap my head around it all, I had to accept that I would never walk again."

Since then Spooner set about recovering, which was a long and difficult process for much of the time.

He credits the decision to start playing wheelchair rugby in 2015 with changing his life and his outlook.

"Someone showed me a great movie called Murderball, and it really inspired me. I decided that I would commit myself to playing wheelchair rugby, and since then I've trained everyday."

Keen to get practising as much as possible, Spooner and his brother Mason were able to fundraise the $10,000 needed for a specially designed rugby chair.

The Wednesday training and social nights at Palmerston North Boy's High School became a staple part of Spooner's week, but he would be sure to make efforts every day to improve his fitness and skill set.

"Almost straight away I was building up my physical and emotional strength more than I ever had since the accident, and meeting a lot of awesome people in the process."

Spooner improved quickly, and he became determined to get himself in to contention for the New Zealand side as soon as possible.


After being invited to a national training camp last month, Spooner was disappointed to initially miss out on selection for the WheelBlacks' upcoming series against Australia in Christchurch.

However, the coaches called him a few weeks later to let him know that if he was available they'd like to have him in the national wheelchair rugby squad.

The reward for his hard work is a source of much pride to Jacob, his familiy and his supporters.

"I've made some great friends through the sport and since I started playing really haven't looked back."

He's away in Hamilton this week preparing with the side before they head down south for five games against the trans-tasman rivals across three days.