Support pours in for Michael Fatialofa

The Rugby Players Association says it has been blown away by the support injured lock Michael Fatialofa has already received through the Restart Rugby charity.

The Worcester Warriors' second rower suffered a serious neck injury last month and was recently moved to a specialist spinal injuries clinic.

A fundraising campaign to help support the 27-year-old and his wife Tatiana during the rehabilitation period had already raised more than £28,000 ($US37,000) within the first 72 hours.

Players Association chief executive Damian Hopley said the campaign was set up to ensure Fatialofa had ongoing support.

"You couldn't think of sadder circumstances to see such a beautiful big man as Michael in hospital," he said.

"But the response of the rugby public through the Injured Players Foundation, through the Restart Rugby charity and his own team mates around the world has been just incredible."

"It just shows that he's a much loved and very popular member of the rugby fraternity."

Hopley said it has been great to see the rugby community band together to show their support.

"Michael is immensely popular not only at Worcester but across the game clearly with a hugely successful career in New Zealand as well and just to see all the messages coming from around the world...there's a lot of people queuing up to do what they can to support Michael," he said.

"It's so cruel that this has happened to Michael but it reinforces that unfortunately accidents do happen and it's part of the game.

"I think what's really important is that we are all there when things go wrong to pick up the pieces, and that's exactly what we're trying to do for Michael and his family."

Fatialofa was diagnosed with a spinal contusion after being injured during his side's 62-5 English Premiership defeat at Saracens on 4 January, and underwent surgery three days later to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord caused by bruising and swelling.

Damian Hopley said the UK-based Rugby Player Association (RPA) works closely with the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the governing body of the Injured Players Foundation, to provide support and information to rugby players in England who sustain serious spinal cord or brain injuries.

The Restart charity has supported a number of players who have suffered significant spinal injuries, including former English rugby union prop Matt Hampson, who became a C4/5 tetraplegic after a scrummaging practice accident for England's under 21s in 2005.

"Sometimes there tends to be a groundswell of support and then it sort of fades off but the crowdfunding page was an important part of trying to make sure that Michael has got ongoing support after the initial acute stage of his injury," Hopley said.

"Really the first and most pressing acute issue is around the medical care and making sure that Michael is getting as well looked after as he can. Then I think it's just really making sure that we're doing whatever we can to support [him and his family].

"The Pacific Island community has shown us all many things over the years in the sport on and off the field, but the love and outpouring for Michael has been quite incredible."

The New Zealand-Samoan second rower was moved to a specialist spinal injuries clinic at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury earlier this week after spending four weeks in St Mary's Hospital in London, three of them in intensive care.

Hopley said Fatialofa's recovery was showing some encouraging signs and they were hoping for the best.

"Michael has some movements back in his legs and his arms [and] the initial prognosis from the doctor is that that's an encouraging sign. We are being as positive as possible," he said.

"We know this is about months and years in terms of recovery. It's not a quick recovery like a lot of athletes and rugby players are use to, so it's about making sure there's physical support, mental support [and] psychological support for everyone but specifically Michael."

"It's a steady and patient programme of rehabilitation and 24-hour care. There will be some dark moments in all of this but it's making sure that Michael is in the nest possible place both physically, mentally and his family feel that they're looked after."

Former rugby union player Ed Jackson, who suffered a spinal injury after diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool, also visited Fatialofa soon after his accident.

"It's about the day-to-day interactions with other people who have suffered these kind of injuries," Hopley said.

"He [Jackson] was in to see Michael quite quickly in the hospital and I think just sharing those experiences is really important to ensure those players in that position can understand that there is hope [and] there is life beyond a life-changing injury."