THE family of Sunshine Coast Falcons prop James Ackerman have praised the efforts of medical staff, after the 25-year-old passed away today, having never regained consciousness following an incident on Saturday afternoon against Norths.
"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," the Ackerman family said.
"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!"
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Ackerman was treated by the on-duty doctor and first-aid staff following the incident, during which he suffered serious head injuries, before he was rushed to Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
Family and friends had flown in from all over yesterday to see their stricken mate and support his family, before he passed away today.
Queensland Rugby League managing director Rob Moore said attention would now turn to providing support and counselling for all involved.
"We send our deepest condolences to James' family and friends, and the Sunshine Coast club," Moore said.
"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."
The league community's thoughts are with the Ackerman family after the sad news of James' passing today. Statement: http://t.co/7Slb3jEqvK— Intrust Super Cup (@IntrustSuperCup) June 22, 2015
UPDATE 8.30am: A Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital spokesperson has confirmed James Ackerman's status remains unchanged this morning, with the Falcons prop remaining in a critical condition following the weekend's incident.
WHILE Falcons' prop James Ackerman remained in a critical condition overnight, friends and relatives were flying in to support their injured mate and his family.
The local league fraternity was still reeling, after the quietly spoken but hugely respected forward was injured in a tackle in the Falcons' Intrust Super Cup clash with Norths at Nundah on Saturday, after which his Falcons team-mates had huddled together and prayed for the health of their mate.
The 25-year-old was rushed to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where it was believed he had undergone emergency surgery after suffering a serious head injury, and had been placed in an induced coma in the Intensive Care Unit following the operation.
Well wishes flowed yesterday for the father-of-two as former coaches and his beloved Falcons paid tribute to a great mate and a tireless footballer.
Rob Brough coached James for about eight years, mentoring the hard-working forward in the Mountain Creek State High School rugby league academy, as well as through junior footy with the Kawana Dolphins and was among those devastated by the news of James' injury.
"The word you would use when you're talking about James Ackerman would be respect," an emotional Mr Brough said.
"Everyone who played with him and against him had the greatest respect for him on and off the field.
"He had remarkable courage and the best of attitudes."
Mr Brough recalled the despair James suffered when at age 15 he was forced to take a year off football with knee problems.
"He just lived and breathed footy," Mr Brough said.
Mr Brough, who had been visiting James and his family in hospital yesterday, said he was astounded at the amount of support that had flowed in for the Ackerman family.
"The most overwhelming thing today was seeing his mates he played with at Redcliffe, his mates from the Sunshine Coast... the boys have flown in from all over Australia," he said.
"He never said much, he was the quiet achiever - he never talked himself up - he just got on with the job and he was so genuine, there was nothing about him that you didn't like or respect."
Mr Brough's son, Tyson, a close mate of James, was refereeing the match on Saturday, and Mr Brough said they were all rallying around each other, as James' life remained in the balance.
"All the boys are together which is the best thing for them right now," Mr Brough said.
It was understood Falcons' players and staff had met at Maroochydore yesterday afternoon to discuss the incident and to offer counselling for all involved in the club, as they dealt with the situation.
Falcons' chairman Ashley Robinson said they were firmly focused on supporting James' family, friends and team-mates, as he spoke of the esteem the young prop was held in at the Falcons.
"He's a quiet achiever, a man of few words, but one of those blokes you can always rely on," Mr Robinson said.
"He's one of those guys everyone loved to have on the team.
"If you were going into the trenches he's the sort of bloke you'd want alongside you."
Queensland Rugby League managing director Rob Moore said the thoughts and prayers of the entire rugby league fraternity were with James, his family and friends, and confirmed welfare officers were working to help players, coaches and referees involved in Saturday's game, which was abandoned after the incident.