RUGBY LEAGUE: The Sunshine Coast Falcons remain firmly focused on supporting their players, staff and the grieving Ackerman family, a week since their beloved prop James Ackerman died following an incident during a match against Norths.
Support for the Ackerman family has flown in from around the globe following the death of the 25-year-old, who left behind a wife and two young kids, and a group of teammates who will have to overcome unimaginable hurdles as they look to set foot on the field again.
Falcons' coach Glen Dreger (pictured) reaffirmed the club's honourable stance taken since the incident, that it would back its players and provide them with the support they need, before football once again became the focus.
"We won't be forcing anyone to do anything they don't want to do," Dreger said.
"When they're ready to play footy again we'll get them ready mentally and physically."
Dreger said it had been a limited program for the Falcons this week, as they prepared for what will be an emotional funeral service at Sunshine Coast Stadium tomorrow morning for the massively respected Ackerman.
"We trained Saturday and the boys had a bit of a barbecue but it's been pretty limited since then," Dreger said.
"We just need to get through Wednesday and support James' family and then we'll start thinking about the weekend."
While Dreger expected to name a team to take on Mackay at Sunshine Coast Stadium this Saturday night, he said nothing was guaranteed at the moment, as the players and staff all worked through their grief in different ways.
"It's just good that a lot of them are local lads and they've been together quite a while," Dreger said.
"They're a really tight group and that's helped more than anything and I'm really proud of how close the boys are and how tight they've been through this."
Having coached a number of players in the side for the past three years, Dreger knows plenty about the character of his side.
While it had been a tough few seasons for the club, the support shown by the wider Coast community had been a massive boost for the Falcons, during what had been a difficult past week.
"It's an experience you never want to go through," he said.
"The community help has been a real boost, it's been overwhelming actually."
Plans were underway for this Saturday to become a tribute to a mate, with the James Ackerman Memorial Day featuring a women's game and FOGS Colts match as curtain-raisers to the Intrust Super Cup clash between the Falcons and the Mackay Cutters with plenty of opportunities for what was hoped to be a massive crowd, to donate to the Ackerman family.
HOW TO HELP
Donate to the Ackerman Family Trust Fund by depositing funds to Bank of Queensland, BSB: 124 001, Acc No: 1150 0777, Ref No: 151 181
Courtesy of Sunshine Coast Daily