BRISBANE, Australia, (AFP) – A rugby league player has died in an Australian hospital two days after being critically injured during a match in Brisbane, his family said on Monday.

Sunshine Coast Falcons front-row forward James Ackerman, a 25-year-old father-of-two, suffered a head injury in a tackle during a Queensland Cup match against the Norths Devils on Saturday.

He died in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on Monday.
“We want to thank all his former teammates and his former clubs for coming and seeing James … your support has been overwhelming during this difficult time,” a family 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 Queensland Rugby League said Ackerman had been treated immediately by the on-duty doctor and first-aid staff before being taken to hospital.

But his condition deteriorated, leaving the Sunshine Coast Falcons bereft of a “champion guy”, QRL chief executive Chris Flannery said.

He is survived by his wife and two young children.
The player who tackled Ackerman, Francis Molo, is contracted to the Brisbane Broncos in the National Rugby League and is receiving counselling and support from his club and the QRL.