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Vodafone Warriors Nathan Friend, Ben Henry and Konrad Hurrell dropped in hoping to provide some cheer for Petera Hallett and Ellie Weight at Starship Children’s Health in Auckland on Thursday.

The two seriously-ill young fans couldn’t have been happier to see some of their heroes while the players were totally humbled to know they were able give Petera and Ellie just a little joy.

Petera (14), who lives in Turangi, is the second youngest of six children.

A passionate rugby union and rugby league player, he could barely walk when he was taken to Taupo Hospital by his father last month after he had complained about a sore back.

The following day he was airlifted to Starship where he underwent emergency surgery on an abscess on his spine. He has now been transferred to the Spinal Unit in Otara.

“Petera’s father said bacteria in the abscess had also attacked the nerves with the result Petera now has no feelings in his legs and is unable to walk,” said Vodafone Warriors community relations manager Petrece Kesha.

“He may never regain the use of his legs but everyone who knows Petera is praying for a positive outcome.

“While he might be having a really tough time you wouldn’t have known it, though. He was laughing and challenging the boys to an arm wrestle.”

Friend, Henry and Hurrell also spent time with nine-year-old Ellie from Dargaville.

The Weights – dad Rolf, mum Karen, brothers Anton and Croydon as well Ellie – are all keen sports people.

Ellie had a fall in a recent cross country event. She finished the race but is now in hospital after contracting septisemic Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. MRSA is a type of staph bacteria which or superbug which has become immune to almost all medical treatments.

“Ellie has had surgery to hopefully help prevent the spread of the infection which began in her hip and spread to her pelvis,” said Kesha.

“Her parents have been told because of the severity of her infection she will require many months of hospital care. 

“When we were there she was still obviously in pain but definitely perked up when she saw the boys, gave them hugs, got them to sign the cast she is in from her chest down to her feet and was beaming her beautiful smile the whole time.”


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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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