League: Severity of injury sways McLean ban

By James MacSmith, Darren Walton

Melbourne considering penalty appeal.

Jordan McLean. Photo / Getty Images
Jordan McLean. Photo / Getty Images

More than half of the seven-week suspension handed down to Melbourne's Jordan McLean for his tackle on Alex McKinnon was because of the injury suffered by the Newcastle back-rower.

The NRL judiciary panel of Bob Lindner, Chris McKenna and Mal Cochrane attributed 725 penalty points to the tackle that has left McKenna with a serious spinal injury.

The NRL revealed in a statement yesterday that 400 points, with each 100 points resulting in a one-match suspension, "were allocated after consideration by the panel of a range of factors including the injury suffered by Alex McKinnon".

The judiciary panel ruled McLean's tackle was a grade 2 dangerous throw which carries 325 demerit points, a three-week ban.

They then added 400 points after taking McKinnon's injury into consideration, as is allowed under NRL judiciary rules.

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said judiciary chairman Paul Conlon agreed to reveal the details of the judiciary panel's deliberations. "There has been no case like this in recent memory and it was always going to be a difficult case for the independent panel," Greenberg said in the statement.

"There is a process in place which was followed but it is clearly a tragic and extraordinary set of circumstance they were dealing with."

Melbourne said after the hearing they were considering an appeal. "The first point I want to make along with everyone in rugby league, I think it's really important all our best wishes go to the young fella who is still very seriously injured," said Storm chief executive Mark Evans.

"We came here tonight feeling that the tackle was a terrible accident, [but] was really no different to hundreds of tackles you see like that in the NRL every season.

"We are going to think about our position as a club in the coming days."

Greenberg said Melbourne had seven days to seek leave to appeal the judiciary's decision. While the welfare of McKinnon continued to be at the forefront of everyone's mind, counselling and support was being provided for 22-year-old McLean.

"This is a tragic incident which has affected the lives of both Alex and Jordan and we need to do all we can to support them both."

McLean had sat stone-faced throughout the one-hour hearing at league headquarters in Sydney, refusing to watch any of the more than 30 replays of the tackle that were shown over and over from eight different camera angles.

His lawyer, Nick Ghabar, had pleaded not guilty to the dangerous throw charge, arguing McKinnon had been the victim of a "terrible and tragic accident" and urged the panel to remove any emotion from the case.

Ghabar expressed deep sympathy for McKinnon and his family but insisted with respect that the Knights youngster "unfortunately and unwittingly" contributed to his injury by "tucking his head into his chest" before hitting the ground.

He said if McKinnon hadn't changed his posture mid-tackle, "there's no way he would have landed on his head".

Ghabar also argued McLean didn't lift McKinnon much beyond horizontal - certainly not vertical - and that "significant downward force" from the other two players in the tackle, Storm brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, played as much a part.

But NRL prosecutor Peter Kite convinced the panel otherwise.

AAP

- NZ Herald

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