Alex McKinnon making slow progress in his recovery

INJURED Newcastle Knights rugby league player Alex McKinnon continues to make small progress in his rehabilitation, but reports the young footballer stood up unaided from his wheelchair at the weekend are incorrect.

McKinnon (pictured) suffered a devastating spinal injury in a tackle-gone-wrong while playing for Newcastle against the Storm in Melbourne on March 24 last year.

Knights coach Rick Stone said yesterday that McKinnon had "stood up unabated (sic) the other day" as he continued to inspire his former teammates in the lead-up to the 2015 NRL season.

"He's just finished in his rehab and he actually stood up unabated the other day ... he stood up on his own which is a terrific sort of step for Alex," Stone said.

APN however understands McKinnon stood up from his wheelchair, but with the assistance of his fiancée Teigan Power who supported him.

It's understood McKinnon, his fiancée and his family were upset by reports the 22-year-old had stood up by himself, giving the impression he had made a big advancement in his rehabilitation.

"When aided to stand up out of my chair, I am now able to stand for a short amount of time with assistance," McKinnon said in a brief statement on the Knights official website after Stone's comments were widely reported in the media and on social network sites.

While the clarification suggested the former Aberdeen junior still had a long way to go in his quest to walk again, the news was still an exciting development. McKinnon's tragic accident united the rugby league community which has followed his progress every step of the way.

The "Rise for Alex" campaign saw the NRL dedicate a full round to the young footballer, raising almost $1.5 million last July to help meet the high costs of his medical care and treatment.

McKinnon, who is in the final stages of his current rehab program on the Gold Coast, will soon head back to Newcastle to take up his role with the club working alongside Knights director of football Michael Hagan and high performance coach Troy Pezet in recruitment.

"That's going to be a great opportunity for Alex to get his teeth into something he really loves, footy," Stone told Sky Sports Radio.

"Everyone in the club will be really happy to see him back."