A QUEENSLAND rugby league player who suffered a fatal blow in an on-field collision two years ago was “deliberately shoved” by opposition player Francis Molo as he lay injured on the ground, a court has heard.
Father-of-two James Ackerman, 25, died of bleeding on the brain two days after being illegally shoulder charged by the now Brisbane Broncos-contracted prop, during a Queensland Cup match in June 2015.
Molo received an eight match suspension in July 2015 after being found guilty by the Queensland Rugby League judiciary of using the illegal manoeuvre.
Footage of the incident showed in Brisbane Coroners Court on Monday showed Sunshine Coast Falcons player Mr Ackerman running towards the North Devils defensive line, when Mr Molo hit him with a shoulder charge.
Touch judge Stephen Kanowski said he saw Mr Molo turn his body to the side and tuck in his right elbow before striking Mr Ackerman.
He said Mr Molo then “deliberately shoved” the injured player as he lay on the field while play continued.
“My opinion (on the day was) that he turned slightly to the side to make direct contact with his shoulder,” Mr Kanowski said.
“I was unsure of point of contact, however the allegation was that it was high contact. I had a suspicion that the contact was high.”
The 22-year-old is due to testify at the inquest on Wednesday morning.
Sunshine Coast Falcons’ head sports trainer Darren Shipley was on the field about 30m from Mr Ackerman when he saw the crunching collision.
He told the court he saw Mr Molo’s shoulder connect with Mr Ackerman’s chin.
“He just went straight down, it was right in front of my eyes,” Mr Shipley said.
“When I got to James I just checked him out, my first thought was he had a bad neck.”
As Mr Ackerman lay unconscious on the ground, his teammates were heard yelling “shoulder charge, shoulder charge.”
Mr Shipley also told the court he saw Mr Molo shove Mr Ackerman again, as he lay on the ground.
“It was about eight seconds for me to get there from when it happened,” he told the inquest.
“The player (Molo) went down and shoved James again in the chest.”
The Courier-Mail reported that several members of Ackerman’s family, including his mother, left the courtroom while footage of the match was played to the inquest.
The Rugby League International Federation banned the shoulder charge in February 2013.
The inquest continues before Coroner John Lock.