The Pain and the Punishment.

April 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm 1 comment

The NRL it would appear has set itself a very dangerous precedent overnight by suspending 22 year old Melbourne Storm forward Jordan Mclean for seven weeks for his tackle on hospitalised Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon.

The three-man panel of ex players Bob Lindner, Chris McKenna and Mal Cochrane took less than 10 minutes to find Mclean guilty of a dangerous throw, and rejected the suggestion from McLean’s defence that McKinnon had played a major role in his own injuries.

The public and no doubt everyone who plays or watches Rugby League is thinking about Alex McKinnon and the fact that he may never walk again as a result of the tackle in which McLean was involved, but one cannot help agreeing with McLean’s counsel Nick Ghabar when he said that “The sympathy of player McLean and the whole of the league is with player McKinnon, at the end of the day when you assess this case and evidence you must do so objectively. You must take out the emotional attachment.”

Ghabar as was his job had requested a ban of between one and three weeks after showing the panel a selection of tackles which resulted in grade one and two charges, many of which apparently seemed more severe than the one involving McLean and for which he was being charged.

Many experts in the sport feel it was an unfortunate incident and that McLean should not have been charged.

However sport is a business and the NRL was forced to take some action, although one cannot feel that McLean’s punishment is the result of the hysteria surrounding the incident.

Twenty-two year old McKinnon remains in a Melbourne hospital as he recovers from two bouts of surgery on his spine – he fractured C4 and C5 vertebrae after the tackle. NRL legend Phil Gould suffered a similar injury back in 1983 playing for the Bulldogs against Manly. He too ducked his head going into the tackle as McKinnon did. Incredibly at the time he was sent back out to play, and lasted only ten more minutes. He lost the use of his right arm for nine months but did manage to return to the game.

Interestingly Gould believed that no charges should have been laid and that it was just a terrible accident, and he believed that McKinnon would say the same thing.

So was McLean’s punishment a result of the panel looking to protect the brand that is the NRL?

Jordan MCLean has to live with the consequences of that tackle and no doubt it will haunt him for a very long time. Despite the punishment handed down last night it was pleasing that the NRL’s Head of Football, Mr Todd Greenberg, said that the NRL was looking after the welfare of Jordan McLean as well as Alex McKinnon.

“This is a tragic incident which has affected the lives of both Alex and Jordan and we need to do all we can to support them both,” Mr Greenberg said. The Melbourne Storm was already offering counselling and support for Jordan.

It is a terribly unfortunate incident and one hopes that McKinnon recovers from the injury as Gould did, and that both young men are able to go on with their lives; although both will in their own way no doubt be remembered of this time for ever more.


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Super sub  |  April 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    The punishment was based on emotion. The most he should have received was 2-3 weeks. Poor kid also has to live with what he has done. There were three tacklers not just one, but this punishment has made one responsible. NRL have got this very wrong.


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