Teammates are comforting shattered Brisbane Broncos footballer Francis Molo after his tackle which resulted in a player’s death was referred straight to the Queensland Rugby League judiciary on Tuesday.
Tributes continue to flood in for Sunshine Coast Falcons forward James Ackerman who died in a Brisbane hospital on Monday after suffering a critical head injury in a Queensland Cup match against the Norths Devils at Bishop Park on Saturday night.
The family of the 25-year-old father-of-two have also been inundated by offers of support.
A trust fund has been set up, with plans in place for a major fundraiser involving the Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm – a Falcons affiliate club – later this year in Ackerman’s honour.
Brisbane and other supporters have also rallied around Broncos contracted 20-year-old Molo who has been cited over the tragic incident.
The QRL said Molo would appear before a specially convened judiciary at a “date to be confirmed” over the tackle.
“I’ve been in contact with Frank since I’ve found out what’s happened and he’s doing it tough,” Broncos captain Justin Hodges said of Molo who made his NRL debut with the club last year.
“We’ll do everything as a club and as a family to make sure both parties are fine and try to help.
“I think that’s the best thing about rugby league. You’re always enemies on the field but when there’s a tragic accident it’s great how everything comes together and supports each other.”
Molo is believed to be receiving counselling at the Broncos.
Ackerman’s father Michael, who was on the sidelines when the incident happened, also called Molo on Monday to console him.
“You can’t stop it from happening, it’s just one of those freak accidents that happen,” Hodges said of the incident.
“As a young parent myself it’s hard and we’ll give them our full support and pass on our best wishes to their family.”
Veteran Broncos back-rower Corey Parker described it as a “terrible, terrible accident” and was unsure of what measures would make rugby league a safer game.
“I am sure if we sift through the game we can find areas (that can be made safer) but you don’t want to dilute the game so it’s a fine line there,” Parker said.
“But in any sport there is a risk factor and at times there is a terrible accident like we have seen.”
Meanwhile, Ackerman’s brother Tom believed his sibling would help others as an organ donor.
“I would just like to let everyone know, James donated organs so that others could survive,” he said on the Support for Ackers #8 Facebook page.
“One amazing thing was that they couldn’t find a match anywhere in Australia for his lungs because they were too big.
“Although sad it just goes to show how much of a workhorse he really was. He had unlimited petrol no matter what he was doing.
“I’m so proud of the achievements he has made through his short life and it’s an honour to call him my brother.”