Alex McKinnon says that rugby league is a safe sport, despite the devastating spinal injury he suffered playing the game he loves.
After the injury to McKinnon in March, the NRL launched a crackdown on lifting tackles which has resulted in a series of inconsistent rulings and downgrades at the judiciary.
Sitting beside Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett with his Knights teammates Willie Mason, Darius Boyd, Dane Gagai and Korbin Sims in attendance at ANZ Stadium on Monday, McKinnon launched this weekend’s round 19 Rise For Alex round, the centrepiece of which will be Newcastle’s clash with the Gold Coast on Sunday.
Speaking to the media for the first time since suffering the injury in March in a lifting tackle, McKinnon declined to comment when asked for his view on the tackles but offered: “rugby league is a safe sport”.
“Lifting tackles are always going to be in the game but if you ask me if the game is safe, of course it is safe,” he continued.
“There are more people in car accidents that end up having spinal injuries than in rugby league.
“That is the way I have taken it, and it is the way I take every day I suppose.
“Being in the spinal ward you see other people and you realise your situation probably isn’t as bad as theirs. Some people have injuries from walking down the street or riding pushbikes.”
A full house is expected at Hunter Stadium on Sunday and the NRL will donate $1 for every fan in attendance at each game this weekend.
The 22-year-old McKinnon said he isn’t sure what Sunday will bring.
“I don’t know what to expect, to tell you the truth,” he said.
“I don’t like things being about myself. I’ve never been like that.
“I’ve always been about the boys and wanting to be a part of the team but I suppose the weekend is going to be about me and I really don’t know how I’m going to handle it.
“I think it will be emotional and I don’t know how I’ll handle it until I get in that situation.”
Rise For Alex wristbands are available for $2 each, and Channel Nine’s Footy Show will host a telethon for Alex on Thursday night.
Fans can also make donations online at www.riseforalex.org.au or by texting RiseForAlex to 0498 555 555.
Share or comment on this article
Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.
Rugby league is a safe sport: McKinnon