Yesterday, we #roseforAlex

Filed in NRL by on March 30, 2014

Today, Ladies who League wanted to take some time to acknowledge the Rugby League Community and in particular the Newcastle Knights and their fans for the tremendous support that has been shown towards Alex McKinnon. This support was so clearly evident in yesterday’s game between the Newcastle Knights and the Cronulla Sharks.

Alex McKinnon and his horrific injury had been the talking point of Rugby League for the entirety of last week and rightly so. Sport is something which brings people together and which brings tremendous joy to people around the world. McKinnon’s injury was a timely reminder to all of us about what’s important and of the tremendous impact which playing rugby league can have on the human body.

McKinnon’s injury is one which has touched almost everyone in Newcastle. Newcastle is a place which loves its NRL, loves the Knights and absolutely rejoices in the success of its players. McKinnon was a player held in high regard by his teammates and his fans, with coach Wayne Bennett likening his relationship with him as one similar to that of father and son.

Last week the NRL community joined together to #riseforAlex. In an situation like this where there is very little that fans can do other than express their best wishes, it was an opportunity for League fans to unite and show their support for a tremendous football player and individual. I watched with tremendous pride over the week as the movement grew in number and in passion, coming together yesterday afternoon at Hunter Stadium.

It was an emotional afternoon at Hunter Stadium. The crowd were a sea of red and blue, dotted with signs displaying messages of support for the young footballer. I found watching the team huddle together as the 18,196 person strong crowd ‘rose for Alex’, very emotional and I’m sure all the Knights players felt the same.

For me, this was a game that the Knights were never going to lose and unfortunately this came at the expense of the winless Cronulla Sharks. Often when teams face adversity they rally together and perform. This is exactly what the Knights did yesterday defeating the Cronulla Sharks 30-0. There were some stand out performances from men like Joseph Leilua and Willie Mason, who despite being in the twilight of his career, put in one of his best performances ever.

While his teammates were on the field, McKinnon remained in a hospital in Melbourne in an induced coma following his horrific injury last Monday night, illustrating how in the end, the 2 points really mattered very little to the Newcastle Knights or anybody else for that matter.

In the aftermath of the weekend footy, it’s time for the NRL to start talking with clubs, players and fans so this sort of injury never happens again. While ‘freak’ accidents are something that can never be elimintated, we as a sport need to do everything we can to ensure that what has happened to Alex McKinnon never happens again.

This year we have already seen the NRL take tremendous leadership in respect of concussions.

We now need to consider whether disallowing the third man in is a viable solution or whether there need to be harsher penalties for lifting.

As a sport it is about more than football and it is about more than winning. In the end, a huge number of young men play rugby league. These are our favourite players, but they are also human beings with families and people that love them. We need to look forward and think critically about our game to make sure that it is as safe as it can be.

Above all though we need to remember Alex McKinnon – the tribute to him yesterday made me proud to be an NRL fan.



Ladies who League

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