Angry Newcastle officials have hit out at Melbourne over the club's defence of Jordan McLean and questioned why his Storm teammates Jesse and Kenny Bromwich weren't also charged over the tackle that resulted in Alex McKinnon suffering a broken neck and spinal damage.
The Knights issued a statement following the seven match ban imposed on McLean in which the club outlined its "frustration" at four aspects of the case, including the suggestion by Melbourne defence counsel Nick Ghabar's at Wednesday night's hearing that McKinnon had contributed to his injuries.
The Newcastle statement said the club took "great offence" to the line of defence, while the Knights were also unhappy that:
* Only McLean was charged and not the Bromwich brothers as they were also involved in the tackle;
* The Storm's decision to appeal against the NRL's initial decision to stand McLean down after the hearing was adjourned for a week, and;
* The inconsistencies in gradings with other recent dangerous throw cases.
Ghabar had told the judiciary panel that McKinnon "unfortunately and unwittingly" contributed to his injury by "tucking his head into his chest" before hitting the ground, and said that if he hadn't changed his posture mid-tackle, "there is no way he would have landed on his head".
The Storm legal counsel also argued that "significant downward force" from the other two players in the tackle, the Bromwich brothers, played as much part.
The Knights responded by issueing a carefully worded statement on Thursday night.
"Firstly, the club takes great offence to suggestions Alex McKinnon contributed to his injury when he was totally helpless in a three-man tackle and left with no ability to protect himself," it said.
"Secondly, the club is disappointed only McLean was charged. His defence acknowledged the involvement of his two teammates in the tackle contributed to Alex's injury, however they have escaped penalty.
"Thirdly, the club applaud the NRL’s decision to postpone the hearing while everyone focused on Alex’s recovery, however, found it insensitive McLean was permitted to play before Wednesday's hearing.
"Finally, while the club understands the length of suspension was always going to polarise opinion, the major disappointment lies in the grave inconsistencies of gradings, especially in comparison to recent cases."
The Knights said they wanted changes to ensure such an incident does not occur again after McKinnon's career was effectively ended in a tackle many believe occurs regularly in matches.
McKinnon remains in Melbourne's Alfred hospital in a serious but stable condition after undergoing surgery to remove a disc between his fractured C4 and C5, and faces the possibility of never being able to walk again due to spinal damage.
"The club agrees there are no winners in this matter and will continue to lobby the NRL to drive change so this devastating event doesn't occur again," the Knights statement said.