Melbourne prop Jordan McLean is understood to be deeply upset by the broken neck suffered by Newcastle’s Alex McKinnon in a tackle gone wrong.
While the NRL monitors the welfare of players from both Newcastle and Melbourne in the wake of the horrible accident in Monday night’s match, McLean has posted a message to 22-year-old McKinnon on his Facebook account.
“Best wishes to Alex McKinnon, I genuinely hope your alright and have a safe recovery,” he wrote.
McKinnon was placed in an induced coma in Melbourne’s The Alfred Hospital on Tuesday and the full extent of his condition is yet to be determined.
His parents Kate and Scott and his partner Teigan Power issued a heartfelt statement on Wednesday.
“We wish to thank the public and the media for the tremendous support and words of concern we have already received for our son and partner, Alex,” they said.
“He remains in a critical but stable condition…
“Alex’s injury is still in its early days and we are still in the process of understanding its implications and what the future may hold for him.
“This is a challenging time for everyone who loves Alex and, until such a time that we are feeling stronger, we ask that our family’s privacy is respected so that we can focus solely on his recovery.”
NRL chief operation officer Jim Doyle said on Wednesday the governing body’s player welfare officers were keeping in contact with their counterparts at the Knights and Storm and will continue to do so over coming weeks.
“We are obviously concerned about anyone who has been involved and our welfare guys are working with both Newcastle and Melbourne and all the players,” he said.
“At this point in time obviously our thoughts are with Alex and his family and our focus is very much on his welfare.”
McLean was charged by the match review panel with a dangerous throw after the tackle he made with brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, in which McKinnon landed head first.
The matter was referred straight to the NRL judiciary due to the serious injury but on Wednesday night, the Storm sought leave for McLean to be available to play this weekend.
An NRL statement said any player facing a charge can “seek leave from the judiciary chairman” and a decision will be made on Thursday whether McLean is allowed to line up against Canterbury on Saturday.
NSW team coach Laurie Daley said the NRL was doing everything possible to make rugby league as safe as it could be and he also revealed that he viewed McKinnon as a possible future State of Origin player.
“I think the NRL are doing a great job, you can see with the introduction of the concussion laws, that has been a real positive,” Daley said.
“Clubs are now understanding the importance of player health and I think clubs themselves are understanding that just because you get a bit of a whack you are not a sook if you need to come off the field.
“I think the league are doing some really good things in that regard.
“I believe the game is safe, but my thoughts are with Alex McKinnon.
“Everyone in the rugby league community is hoping for the best.
“I thought it was an accident. I don’t think the kid (McLean) meant to put him in that position.
“I think the focus should be on Alex and his family.
“It should be about him making a full recovery and everyone thinking about that rather than everyone thinking about whether this kid should be suspended and whether there should be rule changes.
“Unfortunately accidents can occur in a contact sport but we never like to see these sort of injuries happen to anyone.”