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North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston will show his support for young Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon and the NRL’s inaugural Rise For Alex Round by switching to the number 16 jersey against Cronulla on Friday night.

It is JT and the Cowboys’ public way of paying tribute to Alex who wore the 16 in his last game for the Knights.

Following Alex’s spinal injury against Melbourne in March, his club decided to retire the number for the rest of the 2014 NRL season as a mark of respect.

Both Alex and the Knights have given their full support to JT swapping his usual number seven to the 16 for this week’s special occasion.

JT’s match worn number 16 will be signed by the two-time Dally M Medal winner following the Sharks clash and then auctioned to raise funds for Alex, who has set himself the ultimate goal of walking again as his recovery progresses better than expected.

“There’s no doubt that everyone at the Cowboys, and in our game in general, has been touched by Alex’s situation and the incredible way he has handled his adversity,” Thurston said today.

“The way he has dealt with what has happened has been inspirational.

“Wearing the number he wore in his final match is going to be a privilege for me and hopefully provide even more awareness for the Rise For Alex Round.

“I’d like to thank Alex and the Knights for allowing me to have this opportunity to promote the Rise For Alex cause and hope that this one-off 16 jersey prompts some serious bidding.”

The NRL will donate $1 to Alex's foundation for every fan in attendance at each game this weekend.

Fans can also make donations online at or by texting RiseForAlex to 0498 555 555.

Details on how league fans can bid in the JT jersey auction will be available later this week.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour 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.