Let’s Talk: Wheelchair bound NRL player to sue over injury

You might remember back in 2014 when a tackle left NRL player Alex McKinnon in a wheelchair? Well, now the

You might remember back in 2014 when a tackle left NRL player Alex McKinnon in a wheelchair?

Well, now the former NRL star is planning on suing over the devastating injury.

Not only does he plan on suing the NRL, he is also reportedly planning on suing Jordan McLean – the player who tackled him.


The multi-million dollar lawsuit has been confirmed by the Daily Telegraph, and the NRL – who received a legal letter from McKinnon’s legal team last week.

You might be wondering why McKinnon is suing after all this time?

It turns out after the injury he received $750,000 from his club and $1.5 million from fundraisers, but it’s estimated he’ll need $20 million over his lifetime to live as normal a life as he can.

McKinnon actually hinted at taking legal action against McLean in his 2015 book Unbroken.

“If you do something illegal while driving a car and render somebody for the rest of their life in a wheelchair, you pay the consequences,” he wrote.

If you’re not much of a sports fan, the reason everyone is talking about this is because it’s unprecedented in the NRL.

While you’d expect it after a crash as McKinnon wrote about, in sport it’s not very common at all.

Former NRL player Jimmy Smith told Sky Sports Radio this morning that the issue could be damaging for rugby league as a sport.

“It’s had a huge impact on Alex McKinnon’s life and it’s going to have a significant impact on the life of Jordan McLean as he prepares for season 2017. The point to take out of that is he is preparing for season 2017 and Alex McKinnon is in a wheelchair and that’s the thing you can’t get away from,” he said.

“It does do damage to the game of rugby league because in my mind there wasn’t a real intent from Jordan McLean. It’s a dangerous sport and it’s a little bit like the Phillip Hughes incident — it’s one of those freakish accidents that can happen.

“But in saying that this is a guy who’s confined to a wheelchair that has to live the rest of his life like that.

“There were two other players in the tackle as well, so how do you take that into consideration?”

It’s definitely a tricky situation and it’s sure to split your mind in two. A lot of people are feeling for both McKinnon, and McLean – who has had to live with the guilt of what his tackle caused.

What do you think about this? Is it fair for Alex McKinnon to sue the NRL and Jordan McLean? Or is the risk of injury just part of the sport?

  1. edwin  

    Yes it is right and fair that Alex seek damages from both the NRL and also from Jordan McLean. The tackle that injured Alex McKinnon had been declared illegal for many years. It was not to be used under any circumstances, yet Jordan chose to use it. I am certain that he did not intend to cause the injury that McKinnon suffered, I argue that he only wanted to intimidate the opposition. The tackle is illegal because it is very, very dangerous. McKinnon is now wheel chair bound for life. His life has been dramatically effected. The NRL and Mclean cannot expect that life for them will now continue as if nothing has changed.

  2. Dianne Evans  

    I thought all players were covered by insurance and would be covered for this sort of thing?

  3. yvonne stengel  

    why shouldnt he sue he needs care for the rest of his life come on did they honestly think he would let things go footballers players and clubs have insurance its a big time business different to years ago when footballers played because they enjoyed playing football

  4. Mary Toohey  

    I know nothing about rugby or what constitutes a legal or illegal tackle but at the time of the injury, a sports medicine specialist said that if he hadn’t ducked his head in the way he did, he would not have suffered the injury. If he contributed to his own injury, does that change the possible outcome of the case?

    • Denise  

      I agree with Mary. They choose to play – they get huge amounts of money for it – they should have themselves covered for injuries – not expect every one else to pay.

  5. Gregory  

    It’ll be an interesting outcome from these ‘give it a go’ law suits, by McKinnon.

    IF he wins, some serious changes need to be made in, at least, Insurance for players’, if that’s possible.

    If he loses, then he’ll need to find ongoing funds elsewhere.

    Did he not have ‘Personal Insurance Cover’, or can you not get such Policy, as a ‘footy’ player?
    I know nothing about various Sports’ ‘cover’, as haven’t been involved in such a risky Sport, neither were my children, thank goodness!

  6. Carmel Everson  

    He played a sport that is dangerous and was a professional being reimbursed for that risk..there should be insurance at club level to cover these circumstances..i can understand trying to get compensation from NRL Insurance, but think it is very low to sue the other player for something unintentional. It appears that if he had not had his head tucked in maybe the outcome would be different. Very difficult situation.

  7. Gilbert  

    My son broke his back in 2003 due to a diving accident. He has received no compensation to help him out. He has to pay any costs that the NDIS doesnt cover.
    McKinnon on the other hand has received over $2.25 million and he is still whinging. He played a contact sport and took the risk and he got injured.
    Nobody has mentioned John Farrager who was injured when playing for Penrith. He didn’t get a large payout like McKinnon but still continues on and is still supported and employed by his club.

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