The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Molo ready for come­back in wake of tragedy

- CHRIS GARRY

@tiger_c­mail FRAN­CIS Molo will make an emo­tional re­turn to rugby league to­day, eight weeks af­ter he was in­volved in sport­ing tragedy.

Molo will play for the North Devils to­day at Bishop Park, the ground where James Ack­er­man was fa­tally in­jured on June 20 fol­low­ing a shoul­der charge from the prop.

While Molo’s tackle was not reck­less, it was tech­ni­cally a shoul­der charge.

It caused Ack­er­man to suf­fer se­vere whiplash which in­stantly sev­ered the ar­ter­ies in his neck.

The QRL sus­pended Molo for eight weeks for the tackle, which was re­ferred straight to the ju­di­ciary and was not con­tested.

The 115kg fringe Bron­cos prop was a shat­tered fig­ure in the weeks af­ter Ack­er­man died.

He has been train­ing with the Devils and Bron­cos for the past six weeks but it has only been in the past fort­night that Molo de­cided he wanted to play football again this sea­son.

The Bron­cos have sup­ported Molo through­out his sus­pen­sion, with coach Wayne Ben­nett’s pa­tience and lack of pres­sure cru­cial to his im­prov­ing men­tal state.

The Bron­cos have re-signed Molo, who is con­sid­ered a fu­ture first-grade reg­u­lar.

Norths coach Mark Glid­don con­firmed to The Sun­day Mail that Molo would be a late in­clu­sion for their game against Tweed Heads.

“This is an im­por­tant step for him and we are all hop­ing the best for him,” Glid­don said.

“He could play 50 min­utes or so to­day but it has been sev­eral weeks with­out play­ing for him so we will see how he goes.

“He has been train­ing with us ev­ery week and his brother Michael is with us which has made things eas­ier for him.”

Molo will be el­i­gi­ble for the Bron­cos dur­ing their fi­nals cam­paign but this is the last round of the In­trust Su­per Cup and the Devils have not qual­i­fied for the fi­nals, mean­ing this is his only chance to im­press Bris­bane’s coach­ing staff.

Molo was play­ing for Norths against Sun­shine Coast on June 20 when his tackle left Ack­er­man un­con­scious.

Ack­er­man, a fa­ther of two, died in hos­pi­tal on June 22, two days af­ter the in­ci­dent.

In­cred­i­bly, on the day his son died, Ack­er­man’s fa­ther Michael phoned Fran­cis to as­sure him they did not blame him for their son’s death.

The Ack­er­man fam­ily has since cam­paigned to rid rugby league of the shoul­der charge.

 ??  ?? SHAT­TERED MAN: Norths and Bron­cos prop Fran­cis Molo.
SHAT­TERED MAN: Norths and Bron­cos prop Fran­cis Molo.

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