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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