Ex-England rugby captain and World Cup winner meets cancer battler Joss
A BRAVE teenager battling cancer swapped rugby tips with one of his sporting heroes - who travelled to Sheffield especially to pay him a visit.
Former England rugby union captain Lewis Moody met 15-year-old Joss Rowley, who was diagnosed 12 weeks ago and is in the middle of treatment for multiple cancers at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Joss has so far endured four gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, and his fighting spirit has impressed doctors and friends, as well as the rugby legend - nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’.
The teenager is a fullback for Sheffield RUFC’s under-15 team, and Lewis travelled to Abbeydale Park from his home in Bath to meet the ‘inspirational’ youngster, from Treeton, Rotherham.
Lewis retired after suffering a shoulder injury, but said Joss’s illness put his experience into perspective.
“I felt that, now I’m retired, it was an opportunity to meet a young man who is battling terrible adversity in a great way,” he said.
The two met after friends of the Wickersley School pupil made contact with celebrities and sporting personalities, asking for messages of support.
Joss said he thought Lewis, aged 33, was ‘really nice’ for paying him a visit.
“He’s travelled all this way. He’s really nice, funny,” he added.
Apart from lifting Joss’s feelings Lewis brought a rucksack full of gifts - including one of his England shirts signed by the whole team.
He also led a training session with teenager’s team-mates.
“I can’t wait to get back out there,” Joss said.
His dad Graeme Stark, 48, said Joss’s rugby experience has helped him face the chemotherapy bravely.
“Although he’s only been playing six months, his rugby has helped him already. He’s the best full-back in Yorkshire. He’s got the size, speed, talent - and the heart of a lion.
“Everything the doctors throw at him, he’s taken. The way he has taken everything on speaks volumes and hopefully that’s going to get him through the treatment.”
Although Joss is in his first season as a rugby player, he has already made the South Yorkshire squad, and has also excelled at shot putt and sprinting.
He also plays football, and his team-mates at Sunnyside United and Bramley Sunnyside staged a fundraiser on his behalf, raising £750 at the beginning of the month for the Children’s Hospital.
Graeme said a number of other charity events were in the planning stages, including a sponsored run, fishing match and blood donation.