Think seven-week ban is excessive? Time for a gut check

OPINION: Those who describe the seven-week ban handed down to Melbourne player Jordan McLean as excessive need to have a gut-check moment.

Far more severe is the sentence that has been placed upon the player McLean lifted and drove into the ground, Knights player Alex McKinnon.

I accept there was no intent or malice in the tackle.

That does not mean it was not dangerous.

McLean and the Bromwich bothers, also involved in the tackle, made no effort to pull out of it, despite the fact that McKinnon was clearly in a bad position.

I see there is a need to support McLean through this period and to make sure his mental health doesn't deteriorate.

However let's not forget who the true victim is in this situation.

Alex McKinnon may have been given a life sentence. He may never walk again, let alone play football.

The uproar over how hard done by McLean is - quite simply, makes me furious.

Storm captain Cameron Smith saw fit to tell the referee in the moments after McKinnon's injury that McKinnon had caused the damage himself by ducking his head after the young man was driven into the ground in a three-man tackle.

This inexcusable defense was carried all the way to the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night, where McLean's legal representative Nick Ghabar also tried it on for size, essentially saying McKinnon was responsible for the extent of his injuries.

Coming down on his head, with three players on top of him, Alex McKinnon had a split second to decide how to position himself and now people want to hold him responsible for the outcome.

How about not allowing players to be put into a dangerous position to begin with?

Then there are the people who suggest the extent of the injury should not be factor in the judiciary's decision.

I'm sorry, I just can't agree with that.

If you drive dangerously and get stopped by police, you might get a fine and lose your license for a few months.

But if you drive dangerously and severely injure or kill someone in the process, the penalty you will be facing is rightly going to be a lot more severe.

When Knights player Kade Snowden broke a player's jaw with an illegal shoulder charge last year, he was given seven weeks on the sideline - the exact amount McLean is now serving, although the injury McLean caused is unquestionably much more severe.

Many other players have executed the shoulder charge, causing no injuries, and been suspended for just a fraction of that time.

Why? Because the punishment should fit the crime.

I hope McLean can move on from this incident just as surely as I hope that one day Alex McKinnon will be able to walk again one day.

But right now I'm not going to pretend to be concerned that McLean will be sidelined for seven weeks.

Surely the seriousness of McKinnon's injury should provide McLean with a bit of perspective on his own situation, if nothing else.

Topics:  alex mckinnon carlie walker editors picks newcastle knights opinion rugby league

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