Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon has a fractured neck after landing on his head in a three-man tackle in Monday night’s NRL game against Melbourne.
McKinnon, 22, is in a Melbourne hospital and the Knights say he has a fracture at the C4 and C5 vertebrae but the full extent of the injury in not yet known.
“His spinal cord is not severed but the doctors are unsure about the level of spinal cord compromise,” the club said in a statement.
“It will be a number of days or weeks until the extent of his injury is known.”
McKinnon’s parents flew to Melbourne on Tuesday morning and were met at the airport by club officials, who took them to the hospital.
McKinnon was stretchered from the field in a neck brace and taken to the hospital after landing head first in an awkward tackle by Melbourne forwards Jesse Bromwich, his brother Kenny and Jordan McLean.
The tackle, which happened 30 seconds before halftime, was put on report by referee Gerard Sutton.
The Knights squad was flying home today but club doctor Peter McGeoch was staying in Melbourne with McKinnon.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith said the thoughts of the entire rugby league community were with McKinnon, his family and friends.
“The doctors have advised that it will be a number of days or weeks until the extent of his injury is known,” Smith said.
“The NRL and the league community will do whatever we can to support Alex and his family during this time.”
Smith said spinal injuries were extremely rare in rugby league and it was clear that everyone on the field was distressed at McKinnon’s injury.
“Our entire focus is on Alex’s wellbeing and we wish him a full recovery,” Smith said.