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The Knights and Dragons will play for the Alex McKinnon Cup this Saturday night at Hunter Stadium.

The NRL today launched its whole of game Foundation to provide assistance to players who sustain catastrophic injuries.

CEO Dave Smith said the NRL was determined to provide support for players who suffer catastrophic injuries playing rugby league.

The NRL already has in place an insurance scheme which provides compensation of up to $1 million to NRL players who suffer severe injuries.

Mr Smith said the Foundation has been established to provide immediate support in addition to insurance to assist with interim medical bills and other expenses.

It would also provide one-off funding when the injury occurs to help meet the initial medical costs and travel and accommodation for family members so they can be near the injured player.

Mr Smith said the Foundation would be launched this weekend – during the Men of League Heritage Round.

The NRL will this weekend devote $1 from every ticket sold to support the Foundation and the RiseForAlex Fund. The NRL has provided and will continue to provide support to Alex McKinnon in his rehabilitation journey.

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

"In other words, the Foundation will continue to build so it can provide assistance to those few players who suffer catastrophic injuries in our game," he said.

"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."

Mr Smith said the Foundation would provide support for players at all levels – from schoolboys and juniors right through to the NRL – who are catastrophically injured while training or playing organised rugby league.

It will provide assistance to anyone who suffers a severe functional disability such a brain or spinal cord injury.

Mr Smith said the NRL had formed a partnership with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia which will work on the best strategies to help injured players and their families following a catastrophic injury.

The NRL and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia will also jointly fund research initiatives aimed at assisting injured footballers.

"This package aims to provide support for players at all levels – from insurance through to on-going help, research and counselling," Mr Smith said.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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