Alex McKinnon talks on 60 Minutes.
Alex McKinnon talks on 60 Minutes.

New NRL foundation to help players with serious injuries

FOLLOWING the recent emotional story with former Knights star Alex McKinnon on 60 Minutes, the NRL has responded by announcing a foundation to help players with serious injuries.

The initiative, titled, the Whole of Game Foundation, will give more immediate support to seriously-injured players, in addition to the insurance scheme the governing body already has in place.

NRL CEO Dave Smith said the foundation would assist with interim medical bills and other expenses, providing one-off funding when an injury occurred.

He said players at all levels of rugby league, from schoolboys and juniors through to the NRL, would be eligible.

"This week is particularly important because, not only are we continuing to show our support for Alex McKinnon, but we are putting in place a support system for players who suffer catastrophic injuries in the future," Smith said.

The NRL had also partnered with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia to work on strategies for the package, and to fund joint research initiatives.

Smith said the foundation would be launched this weekend, appropriately during the Men of League Heritage Round.

It is even more pertinent now given up-and-coming Sharks player Kurt Drysdale suffered a shocking fracture of his C5 vertebrae on June 7, similar to McKinnon's injury, and has also been left a quadraplegic.

The NRL will devote $1 from every ticket sold this weekend to support the foundation, and the Rise For Alex Fund.

Smith said the fund would continue to grow in coming years through fund-raising activities.