Friends and family are rallying around a Brisbane Broncos footballer involved in a tackle that resulted in a player’s death as administrators ponder how to handle the difficult situation.
Sunshine Coast Falcons forward James Ackerman died in a Brisbane hospital on Monday after suffering a critical head injury in a Queensland state league match against the Norths Devils at Bishop Park on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old father of two was felled in a tackle in the fourth minute of the game and suffered a major brain injury.
The player who was involved in the tackle, Francis Molo, is reportedly “not in a good way” and being offered support.
Molo is contracted to the Broncos and made his NRL debut for the club last year.
The Queensland Rugby League is facing a difficult decision about whether to examine the tackle now or at a later date.
Normal procedure would involve the competition’s match review committee assessing footage of all weekend incidents on a Monday night, with a charge sheet made public on a Tuesday.
But QRL officials are weighing up whether it is better to delay the process out of respect for Ackerman’s family for a few days or perhaps a couple of weeks – or to push on, so that Molo can be either cleared of any wrongdoing or charged as appropriate.
The tackle has been described as a “freak accident” and it is unclear whether the there was an illegal act however contact was made with Ackerman’s head.
Molo’s manager Simon Mammino told News Corp he was receiving counselling and support.
Ackerman was taken to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital however never regained consciousness.
He was taking the ball up from the kick off and suffered a blow to the head.
Medical staff worked on Ackerman for 55 minutes at the ground before he was taken away in an ambulance.
Falcons chairman Ashley Robinson said his main concern was making sure Ackerman’s family are supported and cared for.
The Falcons are offering counselling and support to their players while the Melbourne Storm, which is a Sunshine Coast affiliate club, have flown up their player welfare manager.
The Broncos and Storm are already planning to hold a major fundraiser for Ackerman’s family before their round 20 clash at AAMI Park.
Ackerman is survived by his wife Saraa and young children Olliver and Milly, parents Michael and Sonya and brothers Andrew and Thomas.