Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean has had his case referred straight to the NRL judiciary after he was one of three players involved in the tackle that broke Newcastle Knight Alex McKinnon’s neck.
The match review panel on Tuesday announced McLean had been charged with a dangerous throw for his part in a three-man tackle alongside teammates Jesse and Kenny Bromwich and it would go to a hearing because of the serious injury arising from it.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said McLean would be stood down for Melbourne’s game against Canterbury in Perth on Saturday while the hearing would be deferred indefinitely out of respect to McKinnon and his family.
McKinnon is in a Melbourne hospital with a fracture of the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck after landing head first in the tackle just before halftime in Monday night’s NRL match at AAMI Park.
The Newcastle club said that while the 22-year-old’s spinal cord was not severed, doctors were unsure about the level of spinal cord compromise and it would be a number of days or weeks until the extent of his injury was known.
McLean appeared to lift one of McKinnon’s legs in the tackle, which went horribly wrong.
The tackle was put on report but Storm skipper Cameron Smith was quick to tell referee Gerard Sutton the injury wouldn’t have happened if McLean didn’t duck his head downwards.
Greenberg said no date has been set for McLean’s hearing and, while he has been stood down by the NRL for this week, the Storm can appeal that.
“Our immediate priority is to throw our support behind Alex and his family and to hope for a full recovery,” Greenberg said.
“A date will be determined for Jordan’s hearing after we consult with the Melbourne and Newcastle clubs.
“Jordan will be stood down from this week’s match in Perth and until the matter is heard in line with the NRL’s rules.
“However, the Storm have the right under the rules to seek leave from the NRL judiciary chairman for Jordan to play.
“It is undoubtedly a distressing time for Jordan as well but the NRL has to apply the rules and determine whether a breach has occurred.
“The Match Review Committee believes it is in the best interests of all for the hearing to be held in the judiciary forum where all the information can be presented openly and transparently.
“But, out of respect for Alex and his family, that hearing should not be held at this time.”