Our thoughts and prayers are with you Alex McKinnon

OPINION: A couple of years ago, my brother was knocked out in a dangerous tackle while he was playing for the Maryborough Wallaroos in the former Fraser Coast Rugby League competition.

He was hit by a stray elbow, went down hard and did not get up.

I can't rightly describe the panic I felt and my parents felt in the minutes between him laying on the ground unconscious and the moment when he was able to get to his feet and walk off the field with some assistance.

My brother was left with a hole in his cheek that needed internal and external stitches where the tooth had punched through after the elbow connected with his face.

My brother has had lots of injuries as a result of playing rugby league.

He has had his brow cut open on several occasions and needed dozens of stitches over the years; he has torn muscles in his knees more than once.

He has been lifted in tackles, leaving myself and my parents with our hearts in our mouths, he been accidentally poked in the eye while making a tackle, leaving him with a bleeding retina.

I'm not telling you all this to put you off letting your child play league or to turn you against the sport; I love the game myself and with contact sports, injuries come with the territory.

I mention all this to put into context the empathy I felt for Newcastle Knight's player Alex McKinnon, and his family and partner, when I saw him get injured in the match against the Melbourne Storm more than a week ago.

Despite the laundry list of injuries my brother has faced, he has always been able to get up, to leave the field walking, even if sometimes it has been with assistance.

The relief you feel when the person is able to get to their feet after an injury is hard to describe - it doesn't necessarily mean nothing is wrong, but it's at least a promising sign.

Seeing Alex McKinnon's reaction as he lay on the ground, when he knew something was terribly wrong, was horrific.

This past week, I've been moved to tears by the stories shared about this young man; his coach Wayne Bennett described him as being as dear to him as a son.

It was clear from Wayne Bennett's words that if anyone has the strength, courage and determination to recover from this injury, there could be no person more blessed with those traits than this young man.

As Alex McKinnon faces the challenges of the weeks and months ahead after being diagnosed with a devastating spinal injury, I want him to know my thoughts and prayers, and those of the wider community, are with him.



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