A rugby league player and father-of-two has died in hospital, two days after being critically injured during a Queensland Cup match in Brisbane.
Sunshine Coast Falcons front-rower James Ackerman suffered a head injury in a tackle early in the top-grade match against the Norths Devils at Bishop Park on Saturday.
The 25-year-old died on Monday afternoon at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
“All his former teammates and his former clubs for coming and seeing James … your support has been overwhelming during this difficult time,” a family statement read.
“James loved the game of rugby league, he always played the game with his heart on his sleeve. We will miss you!”
He is survived by his wife Saara and two young children, Olliver and Milly, as well as parents Sonya and Michael, and brothers Andrew and Thomas.
The Queensland Rugby League said Ackerman had been treated immediately by the on-duty doctor and first-aid staff before being taken to hospital.
But his condition deteriorated, leaving the Sunshine Coast Falcons bereft of a “champion guy”, chief executive Chris Flannery said.
“He lived for rugby league,” said former Queensland Origin utility Flannery.
“He was a tough competitor and a fine player who in many ways was the heart and soul of our team.”
Ackerman played 54 Intrust Super Cup matches, the majority for the Redcliffe Dolphins before he switched to the Falcons.
The player who tackled Ackerman, Francis Molo, is a rising forward contracted to the Brisbane Broncos.
Molo is receiving counselling and support from the club and the QRL.
“This process is already underway, with welfare staff employed by both the National Rugby League as well as NRL clubs Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm currently assisting their respective feeder teams,” said QRL managing director Rob Moore.
“One of the strengths of rugby league is the game’s ability to rally behind its own and I have no doubt this will happen throughout this challenging period, he said.