McLean, a 22-year-old in his second season in Australia’s top National Rugby League competition, was cited for lifting Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon in a tackle during a match in Melbourne last week.
One of three Melbourne players involved in the tackle but the only one on report, McLean is expected to plead not guilty to a dangerous throw charge.
The tackle left McKinnon in critical condition, and local media have reported he may never walk again.
“It is a really tough case and certainly it would be close to the toughest case I’ve seen to have to be dealt with,” Greg McCallum, a former chairman of the NRL’s match review committee, said in comments published by The Australian on Wednesday.
“I feel for everybody involved because it’s uncharted territory. There’s nothing to fall back on and it’s going to be a tough case.
“It’s going to be emotional and it’s going to be hard.”
The NRL and Australian Rugby Union have worked to crack down on “lifting” tackles due to the dangers of spinal and head trauma to players dumped into the turf.
But players are regularly lifted and dumped in tackles during games, with far less serious consequences.
McKinnon’s plight has prompted an outpouring of sympathy in Australia, with an emotional tribute from Newcastle Knights fans during the team’s home match against Cronulla Sharks earlier this week.
McLean has the sympathy of some NRL players, many of whom see the incident as a freak accident.
“As a player and speaking to all other players, we really don’t think there was a lot in the tackle,” Sharks captain Paul Gallen said.
“It’s just an absolute tragic accident that has happened. It’s the most unfortunate thing I’ve ever seen in rugby league.
“Unfortunately for Jordan he’s stuck in the middle of it.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Peter Rutherford)