Sports

‘Rugby League is a game, life is not!’: James Ackerman’s brother blasts Slater decision

The brother of rugby league player James Ackerman, who was killed after a high-impact shoulder charge in 2015, has been scathing of the decision to clear Billy Slater, saying it "insulted" his brother.

Slater was cleared by the judiciary on Tuesday night after a marathon hearing and deliberations of nearly an hour by the three-man panel.

Andrew Ackerman posted on Facebook after the verdict, with a picture of his brother in a hospital bed.

"The 'shoulder charge' door was opened back up tonight and this helpless guy was insulted," he said in the post.

"Rugby League is just a game, life is not!!"

External Link: Anthony James Ackerman: The 'shoulder charge' door was opened up tonight and this helpless guy was insulted. Rugby League is just a game, life is not!!

Sunshine Coast Falcons player Ackerman died two days after a collision with Brisbane Broncos recruit Francis Molo during a Queensland Cup match in 2015.

The family vowed after his death to work to remove the shoulder charge from the game permanently.

On Sunday — following the Storm's win over Cronulla in the preliminary final and Slater's citing over his shoulder charge on Sosaia Feki in a last-ditch effort to stop a try — Ackerman had taken to Facebook to give his opinion of the incident.

In his Facebook video, he delivered a "stern warning" to Todd Greenberg and the NRL.

"Whenever this is brought up we relive the past and I am so, so sick of it. I want to swear, I want to scream, I want to break something but I'm not that type of bloke."

"Billy Slater should be found guilty of a shoulder charge. No there was no malice nor intent to hurt in this tackle. No-one was injured, but a shoulder charge was used."

"It doesn't say in there [the definition of a shoulder charge] that if a player is going to play his last game in a grand final, he should be let off."

"The shoulder charge has about 200 points, which is about a week [suspension]. Some have come out and said that it's too much — well it needs to be that much because we need to get rid of it out of the game.

"I have no hate towards Billy Slater or the Melbourne Storm. My hate and my family's hate is for the shoulder charge, whether it be minimal, medium or very bad, like what happened to [my brother].

"A shoulder charge is a shoulder charge and that's exactly what happened on Friday night."

Billy Slater (R) knocks Sharks winger Sosaia Feki out of play in the preliminary final.

Roosters' Cordner confused by verdict

Roosters captain Boyd Cordner said the decision by the judiciary was confusing.

"I always thought he was going to play, I think everyone did to be honest," he told Triple M radio in Sydney.

"Either way, whether he got off of he didn't there was going to be some noise about it.

"For me, after that I don't know what a shoulder charge is anymore. I think you're all sitting there thinking the same thing.

"It's good to have a legend of our game and one of the best ever play his last game, a grand final.

"But on the other hand you sit there scratching your head about what actually are the rules around that. For me, personally, it was a shoulder charge."

Melbourne Storm chief executive Dave Donaghy greeted the decision, saying he was relieved Slater would be allowed to end his career with a grand final appearance.

Donaghy told ABC Radio Melbourne it will be a fitting end for the sports icon.

"It's wonderful for us that Billy now gets the opportunity to finish his career by actually playing a game, and that game just happens to be the grand final — because I'm not sure if we didn't get him off that I would be able to look him in the eye," Donaghy said on Wednesday.

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