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Alex McKinnon incident unfortunate consequence of cannonball tackle rule

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The Gus and Webby show

Phil Gould and Andrew Webster discuss on Tuesday the Alex McKinnon tackle and reflect upon a similar injury suffered by Phil in his playing days.

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Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon has suffered fractures to two vertebrae.

Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon has suffered fractures to two vertebrae. Photo: Getty Images

The serious injury to Newcastle forward, Alex McKinnon, is an unfortunate consequence of the new rule prohibiting the third man in a tackle attacking the knees of a ball carrier.

Three Storm players tackled McKinnon in the match on Monday night, with one attempting to lift the 22-year-old’s leg and turn him, seeking to force him to the ground, or at least prevent him playing the ball quickly.

McKinnon dropped his head in the tackle, meaning it was the first point of contact with the ground.

McKinnon was treated on the field for five minutes before being taken to hospital.

McKinnon was treated on the field for five minutes before being taken to hospital. Photo: Getty Images

Had there been no rule preventing the third man attacking the knees, it is likely he would have gone into the tackle around the legs, rather than join his other two partners in an unstable and potentially dangerous dance with McKinnon.

Put crudely, even cruelly, the NRL must ask what is more crucial: protecting a player’s knees, or his spine?

Blanket rules are vulnerable to unfortunate consequences, the better option being to allow the referee to punish low tackles which are dangerous and allow those which are not.

McKinnon was stretchered off in 2013 after being hit by an alleged cannonball tackle by then South Sydney player Nathan Peats.

McKinnon was stretchered off in 2013 after being hit by an alleged cannonball tackle by then South Sydney player Nathan Peats. Photo: Getty Images

McKinnon’s coach, Wayne Bennett, was a member of the rules committee which voted in the new rule which has achieved its purpose: faster play-the-balls.

A distressed Bennett, who would opt for a healthy McKinnon over a thousand quick rucks, may dispute the notion that the new rule had anything to do with the injury.

But there can be no doubt the basket of new laws has created some spectacular football and ingenious plays.

The no time-off rule when the ball is out of play in the final five minutes has created some thrilling finishes and innovative acts.

Storm captain Cameron Smith stab-kicked from the halfway restart after the Panthers levelled the scoreline in round two, forcing a knock-on and a scrum.

Half Cooper Cronk edged his team ahead with a field goal from the subsequent set but the more difficult and rarely seen kick was Smith’s grass-cutter which bounced wickedly into the fumbling arms of a Penrith forward on the sideline.

The Panthers responded with a clever short kick-off of their own, drawing a penalty for accidental offside.

As half Peter Wallace was setting up for a long-range penalty goal, Cronk approached the referee and asked whether there was a rule against a rugby union style line-out lift to prevent the ball going over the cross-bar.

The referee told Cronk that once the ball is kicked, it is in play.

The half immediately positioned himself in front of the posts with the tall winger Sisa Waqa and fullback Billy Slater either side, with the object of them propelling him into the air to bat the ball forward.

A Penrith player read their plan and was poised to race through and scoop the ball up for a try but the kick fell low and wide of the posts.

Referees are also adjudicating the 10 metres more accurately and with greater consistency. The NRL track their positions on a grid, allowing them a half-metre margin of error.

Rather than referees standing back 13 metres, or a thin eight metres, almost every ruck in all games played in the first three rounds has seen them stand the 10 metres required in the rule book.

You will still hear the crowd cry “get ‘em back the 10” but it has less meaning now.

The pocket referee and his partner also rotate more, meaning the end of the system where the referee standing at the ruck moves at the next set of six to adjudicate the 10 metres, meaning he stays with one team for extended periods.

Coaches can no longer protest they are stuck with a referee who stands back 13 metres, while his colleague positions himself only eight metres.

The new rule of a zero tackle on the 20-metre line following a kick going dead has had less impact.

While teams are less inclined to kick the ball over the goal line to prevent it going to brilliant fullbacks, they are not running it on the last as much as could be expected.

The Broncos scored all their tries against the Bulldogs from this tactic but their three are one-quarter of the 12 scored in the first three rounds from 127 runs on the last tackle.

Sportsdata reports there were 11 tries from 126 runs at the same time last year.

There have only been four tries from 83 zero tackle restarts, with Bennett’s Knights scoring two.

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The Gus and Webby show (Thumbnail) The Gus and Webby show

Phil Gould and Andrew Webster discuss on Tuesday the Alex McKinnon tackle and reflect upon a similar injury suffered by Phil in his playing days.

Melbourne Storm outlast gallant Newcastle Knights

Wearing a neck brace, McKinnon left the field on a stretcher in the 40th minute after he was driven head-first into the ground in a dangerous tackle.

Melbourne Storm's Jordan McLean charged over Alex McKinnon tackle

Melbourne prop Jordan McLean's tackle in which Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon broke his neck has been referred straight to a judiciary hearing - and the hearing has been deferred.

'We just have to hope for the best for him': Alex McKinnon's rugby league career over following ...

The rugby league world was united in support for Alex McKinnon after confirmation the young Newcastle forward’s career had been ended by a spinal injury suffered in a tackle the NRL match review committee found too difficult to grade, referring it to a judiciary hearing.

Alex McKinnon is in the thoughts of John Farragher

Former Penrith player John Farragher, who became a quadriplegic in 1978 when a scrum collapsed on him during a match against Newtown, said his prayers were with Alex McKinnon.

Jordan McLean cleared to play despite Alex McKinnon tackle charge

The NRL has given Melbourne permission to select youngster Jordan McLean for their clash with Canterbury at NIB Stadium in Perth.

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NRL Season 2014

Round 1
Thu, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 28 vs SYD 8 Report Stats
Fri, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 12 vs BRI 18 Stats
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PEN 30 vs NEW 8 Report Stats
MAN 22 vs MEL 23 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs CAN 22 Report Stats
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STG 44 vs WES 24 Report Stats
PAR 36 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
Mon, 10 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRO 12 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 14 vs SOU 12 Report Stats
BRI 16 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 12 vs STG 31 Report Stats
MEL 18 vs PEN 17 Report Stats
SYD 56 vs PAR 4 Report Stats
Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
GCT 12 vs WES 42 Report Stats
NEW 20 vs CAN 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 42 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WES 25 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SYD 30 Report Stats
Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 18 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
NQL 16 vs NZW 20 Report Stats
Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 22 vs PAR 18 Report Stats
CAN 12 vs GCT 24 Stats
Mon, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL 28 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MAN 8 Report Stats
STG 20 vs BRI 36 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 42 vs WES 18 Report Stats
PAR 32 vs PEN 16 Report Stats
BUL 40 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 18 vs CAN 30 Report Stats
NEW 30 vs CRO Report Stats
Mon, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
GCT 13 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD 8 vs BUL 9 Report Stats
BRI 18 vs PAR 25 Report Stats
Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
CRO 37 vs NZW 6 Report Stats
PEN 12 vs CAN 6 Report Stats
STG 6 vs SOU 26 Report Stats
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MEL 26 vs GCT 28 Report Stats
WES 34 vs MAN 18 Report Stats
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NQL 28 vs NEW 2 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN 2 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs BRI 8 Report Stats
Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CAN 12 vs NEW 26 Report Stats
PAR 14 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
WES 16 vs NQL 4 Report Stats
Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
NZW 20 vs BUL 21 Report Stats
MAN 24 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
Mon, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs STG 24 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs BUL 15 Report Stats
NEW 6 vs BRI 32 Report Stats
MAN 26 vs NQL 21 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 20 vs NZW 10 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs SYD 24 Report Stats
Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
CAN 24 vs MEL 22 Report Stats
Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 18 vs WES 21 Report Stats
PEN 14 vs GCT 12 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 14 vs SYD 34 Report Stats
MEL 10 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SOU 28 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO 24 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs PAR 14 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
MAN 54 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
WES 6 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 30 vs WES 6 Report Stats
NQL 27 vs BRI 14 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
NZW 54 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
MEL 22 vs MAN 19 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW 10 vs PEN 32 Report Stats
STG 6 vs BUL 38 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 42 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs MEL 27 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs GCT 8 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 36 vs STG Report Stats
CRO 20 vs WES 22 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs SYD 10 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 20 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NZW 12 Report Stats
Mon, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 15 vs NEW 14 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT 16 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
WES 14 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 42 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
Mon, 26 MayTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SOU 18 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN 38 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
NQL 22 vs MEL Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 38 vs NEW 18 Report Stats
BRI 36 vs MAN 10 Report Stats
Mon, 02 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 29 vs STG 10 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 32 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs NQL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 14 vs PEN 36 Report Stats
STG 30 vs CRO Report Stats
SOU 34 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW 20 vs WES 23 Report Stats
MEL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
CAN 4 vs BRI 28 Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs WES 10 Report Stats
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
PEN 18 vs STG 14 Report Stats
SYD 29 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs PAR 22 Report Stats
Mon, 16 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs MEL 24 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAN 14 vs BUL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 19 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
CRO vs MAN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 46 vs PAR 20 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs STG 19 Report Stats
Mon, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW 36 vs NQL 28 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
WES 19 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
NQL 20 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 30 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
PAR 10 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Mon, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
STG 24 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
BUL 23 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 27 vs NQL 24 Report Stats
SYD 28 vs CRO 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WES 10 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
Mon, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU 10 vs GCT 14 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN 40 vs WES 8 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW 48 vs PAR Report Stats
MEL 4 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs CAN 36 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs NEW 31 Report Stats
Mon, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 35 vs BRI 34 Report Stats
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Round 19
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO 18 vs NQL 36 Report Stats
PAR 12 vs SOU 32 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 32 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
MEL 28 vs CAN 14 Report Stats
BRI 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 8 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
WES 46 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
Mon, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 12 vs MAN 21 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 16 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
BRI 8 vs MEL 30 Stats
Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 16 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs PAR 24 Stats
BUL 12 vs NQL 20 Report Stats
Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW 12 vs MAN 22 Report Stats
WES 12 vs STG 28 Stats
Mon, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
CAN 18 vs SOU 34 Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
MAN 16 vs BRI 4 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs PEN 22 Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
CRO 12 vs PAR 32 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs GCT 8 Stats
SYD 30 vs STG 22 Stats
Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
CAN 18 vs NZW 54 Stats
SOU 50 vs NEW 10 Stats
Mon, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
WES 6 vs MEL 28 Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 23 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
BRI 41 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 32 vs MEL 30 Report Stats
NQL 64 vs WES 6 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs CAN 10 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 16 vs CRO 12 Report Stats
STG 4 vs PEN 16 Stats
Mon, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
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Round 23
Thu, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 42 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 16 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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CAN 16 vs STG 34 Report Stats
MEL 48 vs CRO 6 Report Stats
WES 4 vs SYD 48 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs MAN 15 Report Stats
Mon, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 23 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
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Round 24
Thu, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 30 vs WES 10 Stats
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
SOU 10 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 12 vs SYD 46 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs CAN 22 Stats
STG 34 vs GCT 6 Stats
Mon, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 10 vs MEL 24 Stats
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Round 25
Thu, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 14 vs SOU 21 Stats
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 30 vs STG 22 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 42 vs PAR 12 Stats
CAN 27 vs WES 12 Stats
SYD 24 vs MEL 12 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 42 vs GCT Stats
MAN 26 vs PEN 25 Stats
Mon, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
NQL 20 vs CRO 19 Stats
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Round 26
Thu, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 22 vs SOU 18 Stats
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 22 vs BRI 12 Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
WES 26 vs CRO 10 Report Stats
CAN 33 vs PAR 20 Stats
NQL 30 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
NEW 40 vs STG 10 Report Stats
GCT 19 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
PEN 22 vs NZW 6 Stats
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Finals Week 1
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 18 vs PEN 19 Report Stats
NQL 32 vs BRI 20 Report Stats
Sun, 14 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 4 vs BUL 28 Report Stats
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Finals Week 2
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 31 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 17 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Preliminary Finals
Fri, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs SYD 22 Report Stats
Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
PEN 12 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Grand Final
Sun, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
SOU 30 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
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NRL Premiership - 2014 Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Sydney Roosters 24 16 8 0 230 36
Manly 24 16 8 0 103 36
South Sydney 24 15 9 0 224 34
Penrith 24 15 9 0 80 34
North Queensland 24 14 10 0 190 32
Melbourne 24 14 10 0 76 32
Canterbury-Bankstown 24 13 11 0 7 30
Brisbane 24 12 12 0 93 28
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