By Rocco Luca
April 1, 2014

THE Newcastle Knights say they’re “extremely disappointed” in a television news story on Monday night about Alex McKinnon’s injury.

A Channel Nine report said that McKinnon had been told by doctors that he is a quadriplegic.

“There were no new developments on Monday in regards to Alex McKinnon’s condition,” a Knights statement said on Tuesday.

“The club has continued to provide factual updates in consultation with Alex’s family at this delicate time.

“Alex was brought out of an induced coma following his initial surgery last Tuesday and has been conscious since. Doctors confirmed Alex had suffered a devastating spinal injury on Wednesday. On Sunday he was able to communicate with his family after his assisted ventilation was removed.

“While Alex’s condition continues to improve, his body is in the first phase of recovery. As previously shared, he has movement in his right arm and the uncertainty remains in the extent of further recovery. The doctors explained any regeneration and recovery could be up to two years.

“As Alex remains in hospital in a serious but stable condition, visitation is restricted. Therefore coach Wayne Bennett visited on Monday without Alex’s teammates as initially planned.

“The club is extremely disappointed in the sensationalised television news story on Monday night about this tragic situation.

“One of the most important factors for Alex at this time is hope, which was jeopardised by this report.

“The club and the McKinnons appreciate the respectful way other media have handled and reported on Alex’s condition.

“Club staff will continue to stay with Alex and his family in Melbourne and continue to provide any appropriate update in consultation with his family. We again request Alex and his family’s privacy is respected at this time.

“To Members, fans and all who are sending their best wishes, thank you.”

All offers of financial and in-kind support are appreciated however our focus remains on Alex. When the time is appropriate, the Club will notify how your contribution can be accepted.

The McKinnon family have again shown their appreciation to all those who have been showing their support.

“We would once again like to thank the public and media for the ongoing show of concern and support for our son and partner, Alex.

“While there is a lot of detail being reported about Alex’s condition, it is important to remember that it is still early days for him post-injury.

“Those close to Alex know he is strong, and that he is a fighter and, that alone, is reason to remain hopeful.”

NRL Rd 4 - Knights v Sharks

Meanwhile, RLW spoke to an emotional Knights captain Kurt Gidley about the strain his players had been under and how the plight of their stricken team-mate will act as inspiration for the remainder of 2014.

“We have to move on in the next few weeks but  we will certainly have Alex in the back of our minds every game we go into. He will be there with us, his spirit, we have him on our jumper as a memory for the rest of the year but we have to get the job done,” Gidley said.

“Emotions can only take you so far, you still have to be playing smart footy and doing all the things we have been training to do. As far as the rest of the year, I am looking forward to it. It isn’t going to be tough to play the rest of the year because we have plenty to play for and any time we play well, I know Alex will be watching with a smile on his face.”

There were plenty of tears among the Knights faithful at Hunter Stadium last Sunday as the crowd rose for McKinnon and then watched their heroes smash Cronulla, but Gidley said the players had remained relatively composed.

“I wanted to keep my emotions in check. Your emotions can take over and affect your game, and I wanted to try and keep my emotions in check so I could play as well as I could,” he said.

“It was one of the toughest weeks I have had to deal with in footy but the game, I just tried to approach it as another game and that is the way we had to. We had to play smart, we had to get the job done, we had to improve on things from the past few weeks.”

The Knights’ next challenge comes against a desperate Cowboys side in Townsville next Monday night.