Play­ers’ strong bond in dark hour for sport

Isis Town and Country - - Sport - By BEN TURNBULL

THE harsh re­al­ity of sport was dragged from the dark corners of ev­ery­one’s mind at Sal­ter Oval be­fore Wests played Isis in the main A-grade game of the Bund­aberg Rugby League.

As the play­ers stood arm in arm for a minute’s si­lence in hon­our of Sun­shine Coast Fal­cons for­ward James Ack­er­man, who died re­cently from in­juries in a game of rugby league, some­thing be­came clear. It’s just a game. Ack­er­man’s death has again gal­vanised the sport­ing com­mu­nity, and play­ers who were about to rip into each other for 80 min­utes from Wests and Isis, along with those from Broth­ers and the Tigers who had mo­ments be­fore fin­ished their game, stood shoul­der to shoul­der to re­mem­ber some­one they had never met.

Jersey num­ber 8 was re­tired from the games at Sal­ter Oval and the si­lence at the ground and the emo­tional ex­pres­sions on the play­ers’ faces showed Ack­er­man had touched ev­ery­one in­volved in rugby league.

Bund­aberg Rugby League chair­man Mike Ire­land said the sport was go­ing through a tough time but bonds held the sport to­gether, and with each other they would all get through this dif­fi­cult pe­riod.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult times for any sport – we had it last year with the death of Phil Hughes and in any sport it is sad,” Ire­land said.

“The re­al­ity out of it all is the play­ers, whether they’re in the BRL, Queens­land Cup or the NRL, they are all mates off the field.”

Devils coach Si­mon Ric­cia­rdi said it was a touch­ing mo­ment and showed the tight-knit na­ture of the rugby league com­mu­nity.

“It was great to see the football com­mu­nity pull to­gether for Ack­er­man’s fam­ily, which is a credit to the game,” he said.

Once the play­ers went their teams’ ways, the mood changed and the play­ers got the game un­der way.

Mike Ire­land

The re­al­ity out of it all is the play­ers ... are all mates off the field.

PHOTO: BEN TURNBULL BUN280615BEN1

STAND TO­GETHER: Wests play­ers stand to­gether with the other A-grade teams at Sal­ter Oval in mem­ory of James Ack­er­man.

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