Former NRL player Carl Webb has opened up on his battle against motor neurone disease (MND), three years after the devastating diagnosis. Webb revealed in 2020 that he'd been diagnosed with the incurable condition, which attacks the nervous system and comes with a life expectancy of just five years.
This week, the former Queensland State of Origin player provided an update on how he is going, revealing his condition has only worsened over the last three years. MND impacts nerve cells that control muscles, limiting the ability to move and speak, eventually affecting a person’s ability to breathe and swallow.
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“At the moment I’m still quite capable and independent. However, I’m under no illusions about what’s to come in the future," the 42-year-old father-of-three told A Current Affair.
Carl Webb was one of the toughest forwards to ever play NRL, but at the age of 39 his world came crashing down.
His muscles are now failing him, but his mental strength is helping him to survive his battle against motor neurone disease.#9ACA pic.twitter.com/7maPMKV1G9
— A Current Affair (@ACurrentAffair9) April 28, 2023
“Raising a glass or bottle to my mouth to drink, those little arbitrary tasks throughout the day, are quite challenging now. I maintain a level of strength, getting out of bed every day so you can keep, sort of, and realising that you’re kind of trapped in a body that’s not working so well.”
Webb revealed he is currently recording his voice for when the time comes that he will no longer be able to speak. He also paid tribute to partner Cassandra Jamieson for her support. “It is the hardest thing to ever expect anyone to do, but there is a level of strength there that is just incredible and she turns up every day,” he said.
Webb also revealed he has created the 'Carl Webb Foundation' to help those suffering from MND, with a number of former teammates rallying around him. “It‘s been so inspiring to see the way he has reacted to it,” Darren Lockyer said. “It‘s not about him, it’s about what he can do for others and that’s his family and other people that suffer from the same condition.”
The charity will hold the 'Long Long Lunch' fundraiser on October 27 in Brisbane, providing an opportunity for people to meet rugby league legends and Australians living with MND. “I think it (The Long Long Lunch) overwhelms him, but he‘s not doing it for people to come and go to lunch, he’s doing it to obviously make a difference in other people’s lives,” Lockyer said.
NRL fans react to sad news about Carl Webb
While the average life expectancy for MND sufferers is just five years, some have been known to live much longer. AFL legend Neale Daniher was diagnosed in 2013 and has dedicated the remainder of his life to educating Australians about the disease as co-founder and patron of the 'Fight MND' charity.
Webb played 187 first-grade games across stints with Brisbane, North Queensland and Parramatta. The second-rower played 66 games for the Broncos, 115 for the Cowboys and a further six for the Eels before he hung up the boots in 2011.
He also played 15 State of Origin games for Queensland and one Test match for Australia. NRL fans were left shattered after learning of the devastating update this week.
Man the Carl Webb story is so sad. MND, what an awful disease.
— Dom 🏉 (@domsullivan18) April 28, 2023
I thought he was a tough player, but his real strength is how he has turned his battle with mnd into a mission to help others.
— Ray See - Author (@rayseewriter) April 28, 2023
Not wrong. I’m not sure I could be so resilient. Knowing what was coming my way. He’s an absolute inspiration and I highly encourage anybody that can get along to the benefit night, to get there.
— Shannon Plant (@WeveAllGotToEat) April 28, 2023
Carl Webb what a champion bloke❤️💪
— Wardypg (@Wardypg3) April 28, 2023
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