Alex McKinnon is facing life in a wheelchair after reports emerged that the Newcastle back-rower has been diagnosed as a quadriplegic.
The 22-year-old sustained his injuries last Monday when he landed on his neck following a three-man tackle by Melbourne trio Jesse and Kenny Bromwich and Jordan McLean.
In a tragic sequence of events McLean's attempt to lift the former St George Illawarra player went horribly wrong leaving him with injuries that have rocked the game to its foundations.
The diagnosis was first reported on the Nine Network and was confirmed on Monday night by the Country Rugby League on its Facebook page.
"Absolutely devastated by the news of Alex McKinnon. Doctors diagnosed Alex a quadriplegic. The Rugby League family is right behind you," the CRL wrote.
However, at time of print, the Newcastle Knights club and McKinnon's family were yet to confirm the diagnosis.
McLean will front the NRL judiciary on Wednesday in what is certain to be a difficult situation for all involved.
The young prop was able to play against Canterbury on Saturday after initially being stood down by the NRL and is said to be distraught by the plight of McKinnon.
Social media was awash with tributes to McKinnon from figures across rugby league and the world of sport, with Australia Test captain Michael Clarke leading the way.
"Devastating news about Alex McKinnon. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time," Clarke tweeted.
One of Australia's greatest Paralympians, Newcastle-based Kurt Fearnley also paid his respects.
"Extremely tough turn for Alex McKinnon. Grateful he's still here. Life will never be the same for him, but he will be the same great human!" Fearnley said.
On another difficult day for the Knights, it was announced the NRL, the Hunter Sports Group (HSG) and the Members Club are continuing to work through a unified business model.
Nathan Tinkler had until 5pm on Monday to come up with the funds to retain his ownership of the club or the members would seize control of the club for a dollar.
However, the NRL's head of club and state services, Tony Crawford, said the Knights Members Club and HSG had agreed to hold off action while the NRL holds discussions with both parties.
"The Members Club has agreed to defer any move to transfer the ownership of the club so commercial discussions can take place," Crawford said.
"In the meantime, it is business as usual for the Newcastle Knights.
"This will give all parties a chance to explore all options which are in the long-term interests of the Knights.
"The negotiations will be confidential and could take some time to complete. None of the parties will make any public comment until they are completed." - AAP