James Ackerman: Sunshine Coast Falcons player dies after injury

James Ackerman
James Ackerman played 54 Intrust Super Cup matches during his career

A rugby league player seriously injured during a Queensland Cup match in Australia has died in hospital.

James Ackerman, 25, was playing for the Sunshine Coast Falcons when he suffered a head injury in a tackle five minutes into a game against Norths Devils.

The father-of-two was treated on the field at Bishop Park, before being taken to hospital in Brisbane, and Saturday's game was then abandoned.

Queensland Rugby League (QRL) said on Monday that Ackerman had passed away.

Australian newspaper the Courier-Mailexternal-link said Francis Molo, 20, who made the tackle on Ackerman, is "struggling to cope".

A minute's silence was held for Ackerman prior to Monday's NRL game between St George-Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters.

Both sets of players also wore black armbands.

Sunshine Coast Falcons chief executive officer Chris Flannery described Ackerman as a "champion guy" and "one of our leaders".

He added: "He lived for rugby league. He was a tough competitor and a fine player who in many ways was the heart and soul of our team."

Sc_Falcons on Twitter
Sunshine Coast Falcons tweeted their condolences after the death of forward James Ackerman

QRL managing director Robert Moore saidexternal-link it was a "very difficult and traumatic time".

He added: "We send our deepest condolences to James's family and friends, and the Sunshine Coast club.

"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."

Moore also said it was not an appropriate time to comment further on the incident.

Ackerman's family - including wife Saraa, children Olliver and Milly, brothers Andrew and Thomas and parents Michael and Sonya - thanked the medical staff at both clubs, paramedics, the hospital and his current and former team-mates for their "overwhelming" support.

Their statement read: "James loved the game of rugby league, he always played the game with his heart on his sleeve. We will miss you."

The Falcons are a feeder team for NRL side Melbourne Storm, as are Norths Devils for Brisbane Broncos.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith said: "This is such a tragedy and we send our sympathies to everyone who knew and loved James."