Melbourne Storm will take its time to decide whether to appeal Jordan McLean’s seven-game suspension for his part in the tackle that left Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon with two broken vertebrae.
Storm football manager Frank Ponissi spoke to radio station SEN 1116 in Melbourne on Thursday morning and said the club had seven days to decide whether to appeal or accept the penalty.
Ponissi said the team would turn its attentions to preparing to host the Gold Coast Titans at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon while the club’s legal team put together advice as to whether to appeal.
"We are not going to rush into it,” Ponissi said.
“After any judiciary hearing a club and player have seven days to appeal and usually in the first 24-48 hours you let the emotion run out of it as much as possible.
“[We] then sit down from a legal point of view and see if there is a genuine case to appeal. If there is then the club will certainly look at it.
“But it certainly won’t appeal just for the sake of appealing and based on emotional reasons – it will have to be based on very solid legal reasons.
“Our chief executive [Mark Evans] will sit down with our legal team – for the rest of us we have to move on, we have a game of rugby league.”
Ponissi said he was disappointed with the penalty imposed on McLean as so many people believed McKinnon's injury was caused by accident.
“We are feeling down at the moment, but we must never lose sight that the most important thing is the condition of Alex McKinnon who is still at Alfred Hospital,” Ponissi said.
“It’s just been a terrible, tragic accident and after seeing nine different angles and numerous photo stills hundreds of times in the last eight days – I’m more than convinced, and will go to my grave believing, that it was one of those unfortunate accidents.
"There was just so many multiple factors in one tackle and different people working against each other.
“For one player to be made a scapegoat is disappointing – I will leave it at that.”
The Storm and the NRL have offered McLean counselling and support services as he deals with being involved in such a serious injury.
Ponissi said pushing the hearing back an extra week had not taken all of the emotion out of the case but he also said judiciary chairman Paul Conlon gave an "outstanding" address in which he offered some sympathy to McLean.
“For someone of Paul Conlon’s experience and qualifications to speak like that, it just shows what an unusual situation this is,” Ponissi said.
With tackling techniques and the necessity of lifting players in question, Ponissi said he expected the NRL would review tackling techniques at the end of the season.
“It’s not so much the lifting, but what is an acceptable degree of lifting – you could just lift one leg slightly off the ground, technically that is lifting, but it’s not a dangerous position,” Ponissi said.
“It would be extremely difficult if there was no lifting.
“If everyone is saying nothing illegal has been done but we had an accident – then we need to look at what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable with lifting.”
The Storm plays Gold Coastat AAMI Park on Sunday at 2pm.