Queensland’s rugby league community is mourning the loss of Sunshine Coast Falcons player James Ackerman, who passed away today.
Ackerman, 25, was playing for the Falcons against the Norths Devils at Bishop Park on Saturday when he was seriously injured. He was treated immediately by the on-duty doctor and qualified first-aid staff, before being transported to hospital.
QRL managing director Robert Moore said the league fraternity was in shock and would now focus on continuing the necessary support and counselling for all concerned.
“We send our deepest condolences to James’ family and friends, and the Sunshine Coast club,” Moore said.
“This is obviously a very difficult and traumatic time for a considerable amount of people – and we ask for the privacy of the family to be respected.
“Our immediate priority is to provide support for the family as well as the players, coaches and referees who were involved in this game.
“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.”
Moore said the NRL was committed to providing further assistance if required.
“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.
Ackerman played 54 Intrust Super Cup matches, the majority for the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Sunshine Coast Falcons chief executive officer Chris Flannery said James was a “champion guy” and “one of our leaders”.
“He lived for rugby league,” Flannery said.
“He was a tough competitor and a fine player who in many ways was the heart and soul of our team.
“James played for a number of seasons at Redcliffe but we were delighted to get him back this year as he was a Sunshine Coast boy who went to Mountain Creek High School.”
Statement from the Ackerman family:
Firstly we would like to thank all the medical staff from Norths Devils/Sunshine Coast Falcons and the ambulance staff who attended to James on game day at Bishop Park.
We want to thank the tireless medical staff from Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital, who kept us informed during the night. We are very grateful to the doctors and nurses from the hospital.
All his former teammates and his former clubs for coming and seeing James. Your support has been overwhelming during this difficult time.
James loved the game of rugby league, he always played the game with his heart on his sleeve. We will miss you!