Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh McGahan: Emotions blur McKinnon reaction

Alex McKinnon of the Knights is carried off an a stretcher. Photo / Getty Images
Alex McKinnon of the Knights is carried off an a stretcher. Photo / Getty Images

The biggest issue in rugby league this week has been the reaction to the Alex McKinnon tragedy and the outpouring of support he has received.

He and his family have a long road ahead and every assistance they get will be appreciated.

Many mixed emotions are entangled within this issue and not everyone will be as supportive of the other party involved in this unfortunate incident, Jordan McLean. This young man has a weight on him that no person would like to carry and I don't think he has done a great deal wrong.

But the condemnation of a public that sometimes cannot balance emotions and logic, created a swell of contempt against the NRL - whose move to defer any judicial process was timely and correct; it gives everyone time to take a big breath.

Nearly all comments I have heard to date from players, former and current, are adamant that no malice or intent to injure was involved in this tackle and that it was an unfortunate accident.

This is not to say McLean has no case to answer but the response to this cannot be based purely on an injury rather than the tackle itself. If there was no injury from this tackle, a play-the-ball would have occurred and McKinnon's life would have continued as he knew it. That's a big "if" because his life has now taken a different path. Not until McKinnon is out of his induced coma can a more realistic path of recovery be mapped out for him and his family.

I shake my head when I hear some of the comments on talkback radio shows and am relieved that the court of opinion is not McLean's judge, jury and executioner.

There are passionate people out there who express their opinions but it confirms to me that many have no idea what they are talking about.

There are emotional, vicious and unqualified on what should happen to McLean. This has brought out the worst in some people.

I know I will receive criticism but I understand you cannot please everyone.

Some supposedly intellectual people do not have a lot of common sense. They are uneducated in specific matters but, by viewing incidents enough times, suddenly they believe they are graduated experts. In general, we are all like this and really all we have is an opinion - but we cannot claim to be experts in areas we only participate in by viewing.

Let the dust settle and let those in the position of handing out judgementsdo their job without interference. If you feel they get it wrong, then your opinion is welcomed. But such opinion is not welcome prior to such procedure as it only influences outcomes - and that is not justice.

- Herald on Sunday

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Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh Joseph McGahan MBE was a renowned rugby league player and coach who represented New Zealand in no less than 53 test matches, captaining 17 of them. Beginning his career in Auckland he later moved to Sydney where he played over 100 matches for the Roosters, finishing his career in 1991 as captain-coach of the eastern Sydney outfit. Accolades were never far away from the impressive Kiwi lock and in 1987 McGahan jointly won the prestigious Golden Boot Award, the first row forward at the time to win the award. Hugh McGahan’s international career was similarly impressive coming to the fore in 1982 after scoring a remarkable six tries for the Kiwis against Papua New Guinea in Auckland. Hugh Mcgahan ended his career with distinguished honours as he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and later inducted into the NZRL Legends of League. He continues to write sports columns for the New Zealand Herald.

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