Newcastle have extended the playing contract of Alex McKinnon beyond this year, the NRL club announced on Wednesday.
The Knights and McKinnon were involved in negotiating a contract extension when the back-rower was injured in round three against Melbourne, suffering severe spinal injuries.
The Knights said they would honour that contract and guaranteed McKinnon employment at the club.
Newcastle did not release the terms of the updated contract, saying the details of the 22-year-old’s employment would be discussed when he was ready.
“Alex is a wonderful talent on the field and a better clubman off the field,” Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said in a statement.
“While we remain hopeful Alex will make a full recovery, we are pleased to extend his contract at the Newcastle Knights because there is no doubt he’ll be a valuable employee.”
The NRL unveiled plans on Wednesday to provide a job for life for McKinnon as part of a five-point plan to support him during his recovery.
The Knights’ forward revealed over the weekend he was getting more movement in his arms and had feeling in his legs four weeks after suffering his injuries in a tackle.
A special foundation will be set up to raise funds for McKinnon, starting with a “Rise for Alex” round 19 of the premiership from July 18 with a range of family activities and promotions.
McKinnon will join the NRL when his agreement with Newcastle is finished.
“I appreciate both the Knights’ and NRL’s support at this time,” McKinnon said.
“As I have said before, I am completely overwhelmed by all of the support I have received and, to now have my future secured by the game, is really humbling.
NRL boss Dave Smith welcomed the Knights’ move.
“Alex remains an inspiration for the game and for the rest of the team so this is a sound decision,” he said.
“His contract will be exempt from the salary cap and I think everyone will be delighted to have him in our game while he recovers.”