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Alex McKinnon's inspiring tale leads to State of Origin hostilities being cast aside

Very good cause: Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen display their Rise For Alex wristbands.

Very good cause: Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen display their Rise For Alex wristbands. Photo: Getty Images

State of Origin hostilities were briefly put to one side when rival captains Paul Gallen and Cameron Smith helped launch the “RiseForAlex” round in honour of Newcastle’s Alex McKinnon.

The NRL will dedicate round 19 to raise money to aid McKinnon’s rehabilitation after he was left with a catastrophic spinal injury in a tackle gone wrong this year against Smith’s club side Melbourne.

Gallen said he felt inspired when McKinnon attended the Blues sheds following their game two triumph. "[Alex's] attitude towards what happened is amazing,” Gallen said. “It was such a tragic accident and it's good to see the rugby league community getting behind him.

Courageous: Alex McKinnon is making progress.

Courageous: Alex McKinnon is making progress. Photo: Newcastle Knights

“It raises awareness for other people in this situation, and just how much money and effort it takes to take care of him.

“[It put things into perspective] the moment we found out how bad Alex was. It was a sickening result. It was a total accident and no-one did anything wrong. It just goes to show you how quickly things can change.”

NRL chief executive Dave Smith joined the Origin captains and Knights chairman Paul Harragon at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.  RiseForAlex wristbands will be on sale in rounds 19 and 20 and Channel Nine will hold a telethon during The Footy Show on July 17.  

McKinnon, who will travel to Newcastle for the first time since the injury for the Knights’ clash against Gold Coast in round 19, said in a pre-recorded message he had been blown away by the support he had received from the rugby league community.

"Being at the game in round 19 is going to be a great occasion," McKinnon said. "Newcastle has looked after me and the whole community has looked after me over the last few months. I am really looking forward to going to the game.”

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