SUNSHINE COAST, Australia - The National Rugby League has pledged its continuing support for the family of 25-year old James Ackerman, who died last week as a result of injuries sustained in a game on the prior Saturday in Brisbane.
Ackerman was married with two small children. His family has received an outpouring of support from the rugby league community.
He was playing for the Sunshine Coast Falcons when he was injured in the opening minutes of a game against the Norths Devils at Bishop Park in Nundah, in Brisbane's north. He was admitted to hospital on the Saturday but died on Monday last.
Several hundred people attended Wednesday's funeral for the young player, which was held at the Sunshine Coast stadium.
NRL chief Dave Smith was in attendance as was the Queensland State of Origin captain Cameron Smith, and his coach from the Melbourne Storm, Craig Bellamy and others from the club. Melbourne Storm was well represented as the Sunshine Coast Falcons is a Storm feeder club. Alfie Langer and Kevin and Kerrod Walters also attended, while Broncos coach Wayne Bennett made an appearance by video.
At the conclusion of the service the hearse did a lap of honour around the stadium passing a guard of honour comprising players from all the clubs he played for.
"I think the QRL, the NRL, all of the local clubs have done a fabulous job so we need to keep supporting the family I think," Smith told a packed media contingent after the service on Wednesday.
"They're an amazingly courageous family and they're going through tragedy and it's a very sad thing for anybody to go through so we will make sure we keep supporting the family."
"I think today's about a celebration of James' life really and nobody can help but be moved by what we've just seen and I think the impression that young man's created on so many people in the game and out of the game and I think the way the game comes together in these sorts of tragedies makes you proud," the NRL boss said.
"The service was incredibly moving and the game will be stronger as a result of this and we will continue to support the family and particularly his lovely wife and his two, little kids."
Courtesy of Big News Network