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Hoani MacDonald of Southland is stretchered off the field on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Former Melbourne Rebels player Hoani MacDonald, who collapsed following a heart attack during a first class rugby game in New Zealand, has been moved out of intensive care.
MacDonald, a former Junior All Black and New Zealand Maori representative, collapsed during a match for Southland in the NPC Championship division semi-final against Counties Manukau in Pukekohe on Saturday.
The 34-year-old was put into an induced coma at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.
MacDonald playing for the Rebels in 2011. Photo: Getty Images
On Monday, Rugby Southland chief executive Brian Hopley said MacDonald continued to improve and he would be moved to a coronary care ward.
"Hoani has sent his thanks to everyone who has shown support for him and his family over the past two days, but they also ask for continued privacy," Hopley said.
His fiance and two sons arrived from Invercargill and are at his bedside.
MacDonald, an experienced lock, made his debut for Southland in 2000.
He played 23 Super Rugby matches for the Highlanders between 2004 and 2008, before leaving to play for Welsh regional side Newport.
The forward's 2011 season was blighted by a serious hand injury in Melbourne's opening game and he returned home to New Zealand early in 2012 where he played for the Highlanders and Southland.
He is not the first athlete to suffer a heart attack while playing this year.
In March, English soccer player Fabrice Muamba, 23, survived an on-field heart attack while a month later Italian soccer player Permario Morosini, 25, died after suffering a heart attack during a Italian Serie B game.