Alex McKinnon making progress and determined to walk again

Alex McKinnon has his Newcastle teammates on hand before he addresses the media at ANZ Stadium on Monday. Picture: JONATHAN CARROLL

Alex McKinnon has his Newcastle teammates on hand before he addresses the media at ANZ Stadium on Monday. Picture: JONATHAN CARROLL

RUGBY LEAGUE

Alex McKinnon has set himself the ultimate goal of walking again as his recovery from a devastating spinal injury suffered in March progresses better than expected.

After initially being told he would never walk again, a full recovery is a realistic goal for McKinnon, who says he has come to terms with his situation.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the incident at the launch of the NRL's 'Rise For Alex' round 19 at ANZ Stadium on Monday, the 22-year-old said he was hoping one day soon to resume a normal life.

"As much as I would love to get home and get back to my family and get back to Newcastle and get on with my life, I want to walk again," McKinnon said.

"You see a lot of stories about people who get on with their lives and don't walk again. My focus is to get as much back of my movement as I can and I am slowly improving.

"For example, when I first got diagnosed I was a C4 - all that is shoulder movement. Nothing else. No fingers, no movement in your legs, or anything like that.

"I am slowly progressing with the movement, I am a C7 now.

"It's going to be a slow and long process but I am willing to do that.

"I'm 22 and I'm going to give it my best shot."

McKinnon says he doesn't remember the round-three incident at Melbourne's AAMI Park, only the aftermath of "the whole ground looking at me".

"Obviously being thrown into a situation like this you don't know how to handle it but the people around me and their help has really motivated me to get back to the person that I am," he said.

"There is no point of me being angry. You would think I would be filthy on the world and filthy on the game but I'm not. You may as well be content with the situation.

"What rugby league has done for myself and my life is ridiculous and I wouldn't be the person I am today without it. I wouldn't have met Wayne [Bennett]. I wouldn't have met some of my best mates. I wouldn't change it for anything."

McKinnon launched the round alongside Knights coach Bennett with teammates Willie Mason, Darius Boyd, Dane Gagai and Korbin Sims looking on.

Bennett said the way McKinnon was dealing with the situation was an inspiration.

"He was very valuable before he was injured and he's more valued now because we all feel his pain," Bennett said.

"He's a pretty outstanding young man and he's become even more outstanding in my eyes since the accident because he's made sure it has been easier for all of us.

"Despite all the pain and all the grief and all that is in front of him, he is more concerned about us and how we feel and when we come to see him he's always putting on a brave face.

"It's remarkable the way that he has carried himself."

A full house is expected at Hunter Stadium on Sunday when the Knights host the Gold Coast.

The NRL will donate $1 to Alex's foundation for every fan in attendance at each game this weekend.

Fans can also make donations online at riseforalex.org.au or by texting RiseForAlex to 0498 555 555. 

AAP

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