Rugby World Cup 2019: All Black prop Atu Moli's remarkable road to recovery

Eighteen months ago, Atu Moli almost lost his leg and his rugby career.

Now the former Marlborough Boys’ College head boy is starting in a test match for the first time at the Rugby World Cup.

The Chiefs prop didn’t think much of it when he suffered a knock against the Crusaders in round one last year, but two weeks in hospital and four surgeries later, Moli was grateful to leave with his leg scarred but intact.

"It's a blessing for me to be here. It’s special for me and my family." Moli said of his rapid rise and recovery.

But even now, on the eve of his World Cup debut against Canada in Oita, the wound from the haematoma still hasn’t fully healed.

"I feel like it’s still not a hundred percent, but it's getting better, way better.  

"I feel much healthier and fitter than I was in Super Rugby."

"For me and my leg, I just try not to think about it, and just think it’s normal."

Rugby World Cup 2019: All Black prop Atu Moli's remarkable road to recovery

Not only has the 24-year-old worked hard to overcome the injury, but he's also managed to transform himself from tighthead to a loosehead prop.

His Chiefs and All Blacks teammates Angus Ta'avao and Nepo Laulala have been instrumental in Moli's development.

"The guy you're going up against in training, whether it's Gus or Nepo, you learn off them.  

"They give me feedback straight away after a scrum or if it’s something they see that I’m not doing right."

The former New Zealand under-20s captain is finding the step up from Super Rugby to the All Blacks both enjoyable but challenging.

"You're never safe in this environment, you never know if you're going to get questioned in the meeting or not. But it's helped me as a player to get better."

Wednesday night will no doubt be an emotional occasion for Moli with his parents making the long-haul trip from Blenheim to Oita.

"That's pretty exciting stuff to see them, they haven’t travelled around the world that much."

"For me, I'm pretty nervous but excited to prove my worth here, and just excited to see my mum and dad in the stand supporting me."

For the giant 189 centimetre, 129 kilogram front-rower this is just the beginning of what he hopes will be a long All Blacks career that was almost taken away from him.

"I'd like to stay in the system, keep working hard, and hopefully the tests will come."

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us from 11:15pm Wednesday for live updates of the All Blacks v Canada.