Alex McKinnon's courage has been an inspiration to the NRL and the wider community.

Alex McKinnon's courage has been an inspiration to the NRL and the wider community. Photo: @newcastleknights.com.au

Newcastle Knights have announced they would extend Alex McKinnon’s player contract beyond this year.

The injured forward's contract expires on October 31 and the club was in discussions with him about finalising a contract extension before he suffered the neck damage in a tackle against the Storm in Melbourne in round three.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said the club would honour its contract offer, with McKinnon guaranteed employment at the club. The details of his employment will be discussed with McKinnon when he is ready.

Alex McKinnon attended the Newcastle v Canterbury match last Saturday night, the first time he's been to an NRL match since suffering a spinal injury in round three.

Alex McKinnon attended the Newcastle v Canterbury match last Saturday night, the first time he's been to an NRL match since suffering a spinal injury in round three. Photo: www.bulldogs.com.au

“Alex is a wonderful talent on the field and a better clubman off the field,” Gidley said. “While we remain hopeful Alex will make a full recovery, we are pleased to extend his contract at the Newcastle Knights because there is no doubt he’ll be a valuable employee.”

The NRL also announced he would be offered a job for life, which will take effect once his Newcastle agreement is completed.

“I appreciate both the Knights and NRL’s support at this time,” McKinnon said. “As I have said before, I am completely overwhelmed by all of the support I have received and to now have my future secured by the game, is really humbling.”

NRL chief executive Dave Smith applauded the Knights for honouring McKinnon's new contract. “Alex remains an inspiration for the game and for the rest of the team so this is a sound decision,” he said. “His contract will be exempt from the salary cap and I think everyone will be delighted to have him in our game while he recovers.”

The NRL has also announced it would raise funds for McKinnon with a "Rise for Alex" round, the 19th of the season, in July. A foundation will be set up to raise funds with a range of family activities and promotions planned, the NRL's broadcast partners - Nine Network, FOX Sports, 2GB and Triple M - are backing the round and the NRL will also dedicate funds to a research project associated with spinal injury.

smh.com.au