Northland rugby league officials are receiving praise from New Zealand Rugby League for their efforts in putting injured Takahiwai player Sosaia Tali's interests first, abandoning the game and not moving the player.

The centre suffered what looked to be a serious spinal cord injury but it has since been revealed that Tali is still able to walk.

The injury at the beginning of the final quarter on Saturday was so reminiscent of Newcastle's Alex McKinnon's recent spinal injury in the NRL that all thoughts of the game were quickly forgotten as every precaution was taken to ensure his safe removal to hospital for evaluation.

New Zealand Rugby League high performance manager Tony Iro has applauded referee Jason Smith for his cool management of the situation.


Iro said he takes his hat off to not only Smith but also both teams and fans who recognised the seriousness of the situation.

"It's a real tough injury to deal with," Iro explained. "At the end of the day it's just a game of rugby league ... I'm very proud of the people involved.

"Education is the most important thing, it just needs to be continued. One of the benefits a high profile injury has [such as McKinnon's in the NRL] is the impact it has on those who are watching and recognising the seriousness of an injury.

"With the media that has been around the recent injury it has highlighted [the proper process]."

Rugby League Northland general manager Alex Smits also commended Smith and the others who were involved, saying they could easily have been dealing with a newly diagnosed quadriplegic.

"Rugby league can be a dangerous sport and accidents can happen, but if we all have an action plan on how to manage these situations, then a lot of harm can be avoided and the golden rule is - never move an injured player," Smits said.