Ross says sickening injury could happen to anyone
BEN Ross says Alex McKinnon was the victim of an unfortunate accident and the tackle which left him lying prone on the ground was harmless.
McKinnon is in an induced coma after suffering a devastating spinal injury in the Knights' loss to the Storm at AAMI Park on Monday night.
The 22-year-old underwent surgery in an attempt to stabilise his neck after dislocating his C4 and C5 vertebrae in a tackle.
McKinnon was lifted on a slight angle by three Melbourne players and landed on his neck after appearing to tuck his head into his chest.
He was in intensive care yesterday.
The Knights said he faced a recovery time of up to two years.
McKinnon's case is similar to that of Nambour junior Ross, who spent two years on the sideline after breaking his neck only to make an amazing return to the field.
At one point Ross was told that he might not walk again.
He said he did not want to see an overreaction to McKinnon's injury.
Ross, now a Men of League welfare officer, said the incident made him "feel sick" but it was just an accident.
"It was a harmless tackle," he said.
"There was no intent to drive. It's one of those things that happens.
"With my neck, I was the one making the tackle. I tucked my head into my chest, I did the same thing.
"Freakish things can happen in rugby league and in any other sport. It could happen to anyone at any stage."
Ross backed the NRL's decision to defer Storm forward Jordan McLean's dangerous throw charge which resulted from the tackle.
Because of the serious nature of the injury, McLean has been referred directly to the NRL judiciary but no hearing date has been set.
Ross spoke with NRL officials about McKinnon's situation. He said he agreed that the focus should be on McKinnon's welfare, as well as that of McLean.
He also defended the safety record of the game he loved, pointing out injuries similar to McKinnon's were rare and the extra protective measures which were in place for junior matches.
"It's a safe game, especially for the juniors," he said.
"There are rules in place to protect the players. You can't tackle a player above a certain height, as well as other rules.
"You could say that every sport results in injuries. In soccer you have players that blow their knees out, the same with netball. Golfers get dodgy elbows.
"I know of sports that are a lot more damaging than rugby league.
"It was a freak accident and it's unfortunate that it's happened."