McKinnon Medal mooted

Honoured: Alex McKinnon in training before his serious spinal injury. Picture: DARREN PATEMAN
Honoured: Alex McKinnon in training before his serious spinal injury. Picture: DARREN PATEMAN

League officials are considering a proposal to award a medal named in honour of Alex McKinnon to the man of the match in the City-Country fixture.

McKinnon was a member of the Country side that defeated City 18-12 last year in his maiden representative appearance.

But the Newcastle forward's league career was cut short when he suffered a serious spinal injury against Melbourne in round three.

The McKinnon family have been great contributors to bush football, with an oval in Aberdeen named after Alex's father, Mal.

Country Rugby League officials are planning to honour former chairman Wayne 'Jock' Colley, who recently passed away at the age of 61, with a minute's silence, while players will wear black armbands.

They are also keen to honour McKinnon and the inaugural Alex McKinnon Medal could be struck for the outstanding performer at Apex Oval on May 4.

"Being an NRL player who put so much into the game at a young age, it would be appropriate," CRL chief executive Terry Quinn said.

McKinnon recently proposed to his girlfriend, Teigan Power, and vowed to walk her down the aisle.

The 22-year-old has already had some positive developments in his long recovery, with the Knights reporting he experienced movement in his left arm and improvement in his right arm.

While some players are likely to be rested from the annual clash in Dubbo, it is shaping as a genuine State of Origin trial for others.

St George Illawarra's Josh Dugan is slightly in front of Brett Stewart in the battle for the Country No 1 jumper, with Newcastle's Akuila Uate and James McManus firming for wing spots.

Jamal Idris and Jack Wighton are the likely centre pairing while Canberra forward Paul Vaughan looms as a bolter after his heroics against Melbourne.

Dragons forward Jake Stockwell is another smokey under consideration.

James Maloney will be the five-eighth although there is still debate over whether his scrumbase partner will be Todd Carney or Jarrod Mullen.

Gold Coast playmaker Albert Kelly is under consideration for a utility bench spot.

City could name a number of playmakers including Adam Reynolds, Josh Reynolds, John Sutton and Aiden Sezar, who are also vying for the other Blues halves spot alongside Mitchell Pearce.

Country selectors are also agonising over the hooking role, with Michael Ennis, Mitch Rein and - if he's not rested - Kurt Gidley in the frame. Manly's Glenn Stewart is tipped to miss out although another veteran, Beau Scott, is a likely starter.

Selectors are also watching Bulldogs forwards Josh Jackson and Dale Finucane, who is yet to make his representative debut.

Country coach Trent Barrett and City counterpart Brad Fittler will liaise with NSW coach Laurie Daley before selecting their teams to ensure all contenders have a chance to impress before Origin I at Suncorp Stadium.

Tickets to the game have been slashed to $5 after only 4635 fans showed up at last year's clash at Coffs Harbour.


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