Social media well-wishers are praying a critically injured Queensland rugby league player recovers so they can continue to enjoy his sporting skills, good humour and “cheeky smile”.
Sunshine Coast Falcons forward James Ackerman suffered a head injury in a tackle during a Queensland Cup match against the Norths Devils at Bishop Park on Saturday.
The 25-year-old father of two is now fighting for his life in intensive care at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
A Facebook page set up by a relative after Saturday afternoon’s accident has quickly attracted thousands of followers.
“We need as many prayers as we can to get this boy back home safely and healthy to his babies Milly and Ollie and his family,” the relative wrote.
While the page has been flooded with messages of support from strangers, those who know James have also rallied for their friend.
“Best wishes from all the team at Subway Kunda Park, miss your smart arse comments (and) cheeky smile,” Tania Lehman wrote.
“Hang in there mate.”
Commenter Rich Godden said he witnessed the incident, describing it as “horrific”.
“I was standing on the sideline 20 metres away and saw this terrible accident,” he said.
The man who tackled Ackerman, Francis Molo, is a forward contracted to the Brisbane Broncos. He is reportedly receiving counselling and support from the club.
“Frank is not a dirty player, he plays tough but fair,” manager Simon Mammino told News Corp.
A spokesman for Queensland Rugby League said the typical process of reviewing footage of on-field incidents on Monday, with any charges issued a day after, may be delayed because of the sensitivity of the matter.