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Smith, Gallen come together for Alex McKinnon

Matt Harris, Queensland Correspondent NRL.com Tue, Jul 08, 2014 - 2:50 PM

State of Origin captains Paul Gallen and Cameron Smith have taken the rare step of putting aside State rivalries to join forces for Alex McKinnon’s fundraising campaign. Copyright:

It's considered bad luck for a bride and groom to see each other in the hours before a wedding and even rarer for opposing Origin captains to come face to face on the eve of a match.
 
In normal circumstances Paul Gallen and Cameron Smith wouldn't have gazed across the room at each other until the coin toss prior to running out for Origin III.

However, back in late March circumstances for Newcastle's Alex McKinnon changed forever and despite their on-field differences, both Smith and Gallen stood side-by-side at Suncorp Stadium today to officially launch the RiseForAlex Round and detail ways the rugby league community and the public and provide support for Alex and his family.

Surrounded by NRL CEO Dave Smith and other dignitaries, the opposing Origin captains discussed their thoughts towards the fundraising campaign which will take place over the weekend of July 18-21.


The NRL will donate one dollar to the RiseForAlex Fund for every fan who attends any match in Round 19. Channel Nine's The Footy Show will host a telethon during a special broadcast in Newcastle on July 17.

The sale of wristbands and online donations are other ways the rugby league community and the public and contribute towards Alex's ongoing treatment and recovery.

Speaking at the official launch, both Gallen and Smith discussed Alex McKinnon and the Fund which bears his name, with the NSW skipper quickly dismissing any lingering interstate rivalries between himself and Smith coming together on the eve of Origin.

"It's not [an issue] for me and not for Smithy either. I've got great respect for the guy and we know it's Origin but we've come together for another cause," Gallen said.

"I think it raises awareness for other people in this situation. There's so much money and so much effort in order to take care of them.

"[Alex's] attitude towards what happened is amazing. It was such a tragic accident and it's good to see the rugby league community getting behind him."

Cameron Smith was equally enthusiastic when discussing the fundraising campaign which kicks off next weekend.

"It's a tremendous cause. Obviously all the players, the fans and all the people involved at the [Knights] and the game feel for Alex and his family in the situation he is in," Smith said.

"The support that we've all shown to him and his family to try and make his rehabilitation as easy as it can be has shown how good the game is and how strong the rugby league community is.

"Everybody has followed Alex's rehabilitation. It's great to see he has made a lot of improvements – so that's the main thing, that he is making those improvements and hopefully we can see some more in the near future."

The Queensland captain also outlined that AAMI Park will kindly donate one dollar to every ticket sold on top of the NRL's contribution when the Melbourne Storm host the Raiders in Round 19.

"There's many ways to contribute such as the wristbands, the fund and there's a telethon on throughout the The Footy Show in Newcastle, but the easiest way to [donate] is going to watch a game of football," Smith added.

"At the end of the day you're supporting your team but at the same time you're going to be supporting his fund. If we can get as many people through the gates as we can in Round 19 that'll be great."