Knights to run out for McKinnon
NEWCASTLE players will take the field against Cronulla tomorrow with injured teammate Alex McKinnon's name and playing number close to their hearts.
The game at Hunter Stadium is shaping as an emotional afternoon for Novocastrians who have pulled together to support the young rugby league player who broke his neck on Monday night playing against the Melbourne Storm.
The 22-year-old remains in a Melbourne hospital and his playing future is extremely uncertain.
The new Knights jumpers will carry McKinnon's name and his playing number, 232, on the chest area as a mark of respect.
His No.16 jersey, which he wore when badly injured, will be retired for the season. His replacement tomorrow, David Fa'alogo, will play in the No.18.
Newcastle captain Kurt Gidley said while the players' thoughts were with McKinnon and his family and partner, they would not let the devastating impact of his serious injury affect their performance on Sunday.
"I know my head is in the right place," Gidley (pictured) said. "I know if this had happened to another player, Alex would be the first one to have a real dig for him so we're all going to have a big dig for Alex on Sunday."
Knights coach Wayne Bennett has spoken to his players and they have all been offered counselling.
The Sharks welcome back Origin forward Andrew Fifita from suspension, and Newcastle could also get a late attacking injection if representative fullback Darius Boyd passes an 11th hour fitness test on his troublesome hamstring.
The 26 year-old Queensland and Australian star joined teammates for the final half of training on Thursday, sparking speculation Bennett may be ready to rush him back this weekend.