Alex McKinnon has a strong case if he decides to seek compensation over a tackle which left the one-time rising NRL star with a spinal injury, a prominent lawyer says.
McKinnon suffered a broken neck while playing for Newcastle in March last year, when he was on the receiving end of a dangerous throw from Melbourne prop Jordan McLean.
McLean was suspended for seven weeks over the incident.
The 23-year-old has reportedly hired a legal team as he considers whether to sue the NRL and the Storm for the tackle which prematurely ended his career, though it is understood the 23-year-old is reluctant to follow through on any legal action.
Sam Macedone, a Sydney-based lawyer at Macedone Legal, said McKinnon has a “very good case”.
“Without any doubt in the world,” Macedone told the Nine Network on Thursday.
“When you take on a sport like this, which is a sport that involves violence in a way, you take the risk that you’re going to get hurt.
“However, if you get hurt by someone playing outside of the rules then yes you do have a case.”
But Macedone said the real question will be over whether the sport’s governing body is liable on the grounds it should have made more of an effort to crack down on lifting tackles.
“There’s some itchy feelings around responsibility and whether the NRL could’ve done anything to prevent it,” he said.
Macedone cited strong precedent including former Wests Tigers player Jarrod McCracken’s successful 2006 case, when he was awarded $97,000 after he argued his career was ended by a neck injury suffered in a tackle by Storm duo Stephen Kearney and Marcus Bai.
“You’d think that they (the NRL) would have had some sort of cover … given what’s happened in the past, surely they would’ve planned for something like this.
“I think in some respects they’ve done that by offering him a job for life and looking after him as best they can.
“The real question here – or the legal question – is whether they would be liable in negligence because they did not do enough to prevent these sorts of tackles from continuing in the game.
“Let’s face it, they still continue.”
McKinnon’s recovery resulted in him standing unaided in January for the first time since the injury.
The backrower also began working for the Knights in a football-related role this year.