Ex-Cronulla Sharks star with a baby on the way is left a quadriplegic after breaking his neck in horror rugby incident
- Ex-Cronulla Sharks winger broke his neck playing NSW country rugby union
- Nathan Stapleton, 32, represented Sharks from 2009-2014, scored 17 tries
- Received the devastating news he has been left paralysed after incident
Former NRL player Nathan Stapleton has been left paralysed after breaking his neck while playing NSW country rugby union earlier this month.
The 32-year-old received the devastating news that he is a quadriplegic – paralysed from the shoulders down – overnight.
Stapleton’s spinal cord has been damaged at the C4 level of his cervical vertebrae.
The heartbreaking diagnosis was confirmed by Stapleton’s family, who have established a Go Fund Me page to assist with ongoing costs.
Stapleton, who played for Cronulla and the Roosters in his NRL career, and his partner Kate have an 18-month-old boy.
They are also expecting a newborn baby within months.
Stapleton, 32, was playing rugby for Boorowa in a NSW Country competition when he was hurt in a ruck on April 9. He has since been told he is a quadriplegic – paralysed from the shoulders down
Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon has declared the NRL club will ‘do everything they can’ to support former winger Nathan Stapleton, who suffered a fractured neck earlier this month
‘Nathan was hospitalised after fracturing his neck while playing country rugby union on 9 April 2022 in West Wyalong,’ the Go Fund Me page reads.
‘Unfortunately, Nathan severely injured his spinal cord during contact and required significant medical assistance.
‘Through an incredible effort from members of each club, Nathan was given first aid until paramedics could arrive. Once stabilised, Nathan was airlifted to receive emergency medical treatment in Sydney.
‘Nathan has begun his recovery in hospital, and whilst he shows improvement each day, the extent of his injuries and long term impact remain unclear. Nathan’s spinal cord has been damaged at the C4 level of his cervical vertebrae.
‘At this stage, the injury has left Nathan a quadriplegic, paralysed from the shoulders down.
‘While the Stapleton family remain hopeful that Nathan will regain some movement, it has become clear that Nathan will require long term support and care.
‘Anyone who knows Nathan can attest to his determination and incredible work ethic.
‘He has demonstrated this through his success playing in the NRL with both the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Roosters.
‘There is no doubt that Nathan will bring that same determination and commitment to his rehab and recovery. There is no limit to what Nathan can achieve.
Stapleton was hurt in a ruck during the second half of his Boorowa club’s opening game of the season against West Wyalong on April 9.
The match was immediately abandoned, with Stapleton taken to the spinal unit at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, where he remains.
Earlier this week, Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon declared the NRL club will ‘do everything they can’ to support Stapleton.
Stapleton, who played for Cronulla and the Roosters in his NRL career, and his partner Kate have an 18-month-old boy. They are also expecting a newborn baby within months
‘It’s just a tragedy for Nathan and his family and whatever the Sharks can do to support them is obviously crucial and everyone in rugby league in general should get behind him.
‘It’s sad news and best wishes to him and all involved.
‘It’s still early days for where he is at, at the moment, but it’s definitely sad.’
Stapleton scored 17 tries in 61 appearances for the Sharks between 2009 and 2014, before being released to join the Sydney Roosters.
He later moved to England to play with London, and has started a family since moving back to Australia.