Former NSW Origin prop Jason Stevens said he thought the seven game suspension handed down to Melbourne Storm player Jordan McLean for the tackle on Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon was severe, considering that it was universally described as a terrible accident.
McLean, who was observed to be “distraught” at the hearing was sidelined after being found guilty of a dangerous throw that left McKinnon in hospital with a spinal injury.
While Stevens said he supported the NRL’s clampdown on high and dangerous tackles he admitted to feeling sympathy for McLean, who he believed would already have been wrestling with the impact of the tackle.
“I personally didn’t think [he should have been suspended for seven weeks],” said Stevens. “And I know that might sound awful considering the devastation of the tackle which I believe it was an accident.
“I don’t think, based purely on the tackle itself, [the suspension] was warranted if you take consequences out of it.”
Stevens expected the suspension would most likely add to the trauma McLean was enduring.
“It is so devastating for McKinnon’s family . . . no-one wins . . . I’m also thinking of that player [McLean],he’s a young bloke and I think it’d already be hard enough dealing with what happened. I just feel, he’d personally would be going through a tough time.”
Stevens said he was an ardent supporter of the NRL’s attempts to stamp down on high tackles and dangerous lifting.
“They have really done a great job in terms of trying to protect players,” he said. “When I look at the era I played in [the 1990s to 2000s] some of the things we got away with are out of the game and that is great for rugby league.
“And the NRL ought to be commended for that, they have taken it very seriously, as they should. However , with this case, as devastating as it was, I have my concerns for [McLean’s] career and future.”
Stevens said he his thoughts were with McKinnon and his family.
“It is so devastating for everyone,” he said. “My thoughts are with them, and I wish them my best.”
Former NSW Origin captain and Canterbury legend Steve Mortimer said he had watched replays of the tackle and believed the injury McKinnon suffered was due to a terrible accident but added, based on the aftermath, it could not go unpunished.
“I have watched the tackle a few times and there was no intent . . . I just don’t know . . . you can’t give no weeks because it is probably the worst injury that has come out of a tackle,” he said.
The story Jordan McLean tackle was devastating, but seven-game suspension too tough says Jason Stevens first appeared on WA Today.