ACT Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White hopes to visit childhood friend Alex McKinnon in hospital in Melbourne, declaring his Super Rugby clash against the Rebels "massively insignificant" with McKinnon in an induced coma following a devastating spinal injury.
White said he was shattered when details of the Newcastle Knights forward's neck injury "hit home" on Wednesday.
McKinnon faces a two-year recovery and his NRL career is likely over, with surgeons operating on his vertebrae after a sickening tackle against the Melbourne Storm on Monday night.
White and McKinnon went to primary school together at St Mary's in Scone and both launched their rugby union and rugby league careers at St Gregory's College in Campbelltown.
They also formed a scrum-half and fly-half rugby combination in high school, both made their respective Super Rugby and NRL debuts in 2011, and have remained close.
"To be honest I haven't really thought much about the game [against the Rebels] at all, it's massively insignificant," White said.
"I'm pretty shattered, he's a pretty close mate. I'd love to go and see him. He's in an induced coma so I'm not sure if I'd be allowed.
"Everyone who is in rugby league or rugby union and saw [McKinnon's injury] reflects on how quickly it could be over. It could have been anyone, it could have been me. That's what resonates with you.
"To know it's your mate, your first thought is 'I hope it's not bad'. Then when you see how serious it is, you hope he's back playing this year. But now it's not even about rugby league, it's about quality of life.
"You want him back walking. Macca is young, he's got so much to offer and the sad bit for me is knowing how infectious he can be, I'm sending my thoughts to his family. I'll give all the support I can."
The Brumbies will name their team on Thursday for the clash against the Rebels, Tevita Kuridrani reclaiming the outside centre spot after flying back to Fiji for a family funeral last week.
Christian Lealiifano will start on the bench in his comeback game from ankle surgery while flanker Jarrad Butler is expected to play in an unchanged forward pack.
White's one-on-one battle with former Wallabies No.9 Luke Burgess has been the last thing on the 23-year-old's mind as he keeps watch on McKinnon's progress.
He had plans to stay in Melbourne after the game and hopes he will be able to see his mate before he leaves. He also wants to offer support to McKinnon's family.
The Brumbies will play at AAMI Park on Friday night, the same venue where McKinnon's world came crashing down this week.
His was head caught underneath his body when he was tackled by three Storm players, scans showing a dislocation of the C4 and C5 vertebrae and he was sent for emergency surgery.
At school, he played five-eighth for the St Gregory's rugby union team with White as scrum-half.
The pair would catch the train together from Campbelltown back to Maitland and Aberdeen. White's father Tom works with McKinnon's father Scott.
"When Macca was up and firing on all eight cylinders, everyone was in a good mood," White said.
"He's not a guy you play with and forget about. He leaves his mark on you as a person. It's really shattering.
"Every player stopped for a second and thought, 'holy crap, that could have been me'. Playing at the same ground won't bother me. But this is real, that's why it hits home.
"It's upsetting, a lot of people will rally around him because he has that affect on people."
The story Nic White of the ACT Brumbies talks about close friend Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.