Are we entering a brave new world of political correctness in sport, especially Rugby League? Not quite but we are well on the way.
Jordan McLean received a seven match ban for his tackle on Knights forward Alex McKinnon that has left him hospitalised and facing the very real prospect of being paralysed for life.
The outcome is tragic and there are no winners on either side but have the judiciary gone too far in handing down the verdict that has taken into account the severity of McKinnon’s injury? I feel the sentence was unjust and harsh but who could blame the judiciary for coming up with such a punitive sentence? A light punishment would have caused an uproar within the media and mums and dads would be pulling their kids out of the game in droves.
There was never going to be a middle ground in this case and that’s fair enough I suppose.
With one career over and another one hanging in the balance, the current situation is without precedent in the modern game. McLean will forever have to live with the guilt associated with his involvement in the tackle and it remains to be seen if he can recover from this incident and go on to have a career in the NRL.
It now begs the question, will the NRL outlaw three man tackles and further speed up the game into a glorified version of Oztag? It certainly looks to be the direction in which the game is heading. Medical experts are calling for exactly that and with justification. It’s too early to speculate where the game will end up as a result as there are so many parties that have a vested interest in how the game is played on the field, especially the players.
This situation has opened pandora’s box as there are so many different sub plots that have to be dealt with by the NRL, the clubs, the coaches and the players. It’s a story with no happy ending unfortunately and one that is going to linger for months, if not years.
Change is coming. Of that you can be certain but let’s hope Alex’s situation can create a positive legacy for the game and improvements to player safety without compromising the toughness of the game are the end result. Fingers crossed!