INSPIRATIONAL Alex McKinnon is unsure how he will handle the emotion of his Hunter Stadium home-coming.
Sitting alongside coach Wayne Bennett, with Knights team-mates Willie Mason, Darius Boyd, Korbin Sims and Dane Gagai close by, McKinnon was at ANZ Stadium on Monday to launch the "Rise For Alex" round, which will culminate with Newcastle's game against Gold Coast Titans next Sunday.
It was McKinnon's first media conference since he suffered a devastating spinal injury playing against Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on March 24.
The game against the Titans, in front of an anticipated capacity crowd, will mark his first time back in Newcastle since that life-changing tackle in which he sustained two fractured vertebrae in his neck at the C4-C5 level.
With Bennett by his side, the 22-year-old Aberdeen Tigers junior looked happy and healthy as he wheeled himself in front of microphones and cameras to answer questions from the media.
"I don't know what to expect, to tell you the truth," McKinnon said of his return to Newcastle on Sunday.
"Like I said before, I don't like things being about myself.
"I've never been like that. I've always been about the boys and wanting to be a part of the team but I suppose the weekend is going to be about me and I really don't know how I'm going to handle it, to tell you the truth.
"I think it will be emotional and I don't know how I'll handle it until I get in that situation, to tell you the truth."
The NRL will donate $1 for every fan who attends any of the eight games scheduled this weekend, and anticipate making a donation worth an estimated $170,000 to the Rise for Alex Fund from that promotion.
Rise For Alex wristbands are available for $2 each, the NRL has established a call centre to take donations, The Footy Show will be telecast live from Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Thursday night, and Jessica Mauboy will headline a pre-game concert in an entertainment precinct at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back to Newcastle," said McKinnon, who has vowed to walk his fiancee, Teigan Power, down the aisle on their wedding day.
"I really love the place and everything it's about -- everything the Knights are about -- so I really can't wait to get back to Hunter Stadium to see all the people that have supported me.
"I was even saying to Teigan the other night, I just can't wait to go back to my house. Even if I can't get inside it, I just want to sit out the front, so it will be a good couple of days for me.
"I'm back there for a couple of days and it will be my first trip away from hospital in about four months, so I'm really looking forward to getting back there and seeing a few family ... and not being in hospital and just relax I think."
McKinnon said he had been overwhelmed by the support he had received from family, friends team-mates and the wider community throughout his recovery.
"Obviously I love being around my friends, I love being around the boys and I'm a very family orientated person," the former Country Origin forward said.
"Obviously being in hospital, I've been away from them a lot and it's one thing I've really missed.
"The support the boys have shown me, I could never thank them enough ... and from Wayne and the Knights and the NRL, it's second to none.
"They've helped me a lot through the last few months, especially the support from my family.
"It's been really a bit overwhelming, to tell you the truth. Obviously being thrown into a situation like this, you don't know how to handle it, but with all them people around me, they've not made it easier but they've made it a lot better.
"It's really motivated me to get back to the person that I am and not forget sight of the goals I've got set for me."