Paralysed player sends legal letter to Australia's NRL

Alex McKinnon of the Knights with teammatesImage copyright
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A dangerous tackle ended Alex McKinnon’s NRL career

Lawyers for paralysed player Alex McKinnon have written to Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) amid a report he is planning a multi-million-dollar lawsuit.

The Daily Telegraph said McKinnon is seeking compensation from the NRL and the player whose tackle injured him.

The NRL confirmed to the BBC it had been contacted by McKinnon’s lawyer, but said no claim had been lodged.

The former Newcastle Knights player, 24, must use a wheelchair for life.

He suffered extensive spinal injuries in the spear tackle by Melbourne Storm players in 2014.

The lawsuit reportedly names Storm player Jordan McLean, who was banned for seven matches for the dangerous tackle.

The Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) backed McKinnon on Monday, saying his injury was “life changing”.

“Alex has the right to pursue any and all legal options available to him in relation to his injury and it is appropriate that he has engaged his own legal representatives to assist him,” the RLPA said in a statement.

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McKinnon was left paralysed after the 2014 incident

“We also recognise there has been an emotional toll on those who played and officiated in the game between the Newcastle Knights and Melbourne Storm and particularly on those involved in the incident that resulted in the injury to Alex.

“From the RLPA’s perspective, we will seek to ensure that the rights of all parties are protected throughout any legal process that might eventuate.”

McKinnon received the NRL’s maximum compensation payout of A$500,000 (£292,452; $364,728) following the incident. He received a further A$1.5m through a Rise For Alex fundraising campaign.

Newcastle also paid McKinnon A$750,000 to honour a contract extension he was offered before his injury.

He is currently employed by the club in a player recruitment role.

McKinnon last year mentioned the possibility of legal action in his autobiography, Unbroken.

“If you do something illegal while driving a car and render somebody for the rest of their life in a wheelchair, you pay the consequences,” he wrote.

The NRL on Monday said it was “in correspondence with Alex’s lawyer but we understand no claim has been lodged”.

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