Melbourne fullback Billy Slater will fight to play in the grand final at the judiciary on Tuesday night. Picture: Brett Costello
Melbourne fullback Billy Slater will fight to play in the grand final at the judiciary on Tuesday night. Picture: Brett Costello

Ackerman brother’s emotional Slater attack

THE brother of the late James Ackerman, Andrew, has taken to Facebook to issue a powerful warning urging the NRL to ban Storm fullback Billy Slater from the grand final.

The 25-year-old father-of-two was tragically killed while playing rugby league for the Sunshine Coast three years ago as the result of a shoulder charge.

On Sunday, Ackerman's brother took to social media with a heartfelt message aimed at NRL CEO Todd Greenberg to take action, while hitting out at Channel 9 commentators Andrew Johns, Phil Gould and Paul Vautin claiming they have "no hearts in their bodies" over their support of the shoulder charge.

Retiring Storm custodian Slater has been hit with a grade one shoulder charge from the preliminary final against Cronulla and will face the judiciary on Tuesday night. If found guilty he will miss his final game of NRL and the decider on Sunday night.

Ackerman said it's imperative he should be sidelined, and that if not, the Ackerman family would be very disappointed.

"Once again, when the shoulder charge comes into play this bloke right here (he pointed to a picture of James) is mentioned," Andrew said.

"Now he is dead as the result of a shoulder charge. I watch him die that day, it's not something I thought I'd ever have to watch.

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

"I am not a keyboard warrior. I want to get on here, show my face and show my feelings.

"Now Billy Slater should be found guilty of a shoulder charge. I know there was no malice nor intent to hurt in this tackle. No one was injured. But a shoulder charge was used."

James Ackerman (left) was killed as the result of a shoulder charge in 2015.
James Ackerman (left) was killed as the result of a shoulder charge in 2015.

 

Ackerman recited the definition of a shoulder charge as when a defender doesn't attempt to use his arms or his hands in a tackle or otherwise take hold of the opposing player and the tackle is forceful. He also pointed out that the definition does not include "if a player is going to play his last game in a grand final he should be let off".

"I just want to point out that I have no hate towards Billy Slater or the Melbourne Storm," he said.

"My hate and my family's hate is for the shoulder charge, whether it be minimal, medium or very bad, like what happened to this bloke (points to a picture of James).

"This is a stern warning to Todd Greenberg and the NRL, we've spoken before on this issue, let's just hope you make the right decision, someone, whoever is on the judiciary, makes the right decision."

Addressing Slater, Ackerman said: "Why couldn't you wrap your arms around the bloke?

"You know the rules. Play by the rules. You are a great player, Billy, no one is denying that.

"You have won premierships. You have won Origins …. You have done it all.

"If you happen to miss your grand final come next week because of a shoulder charge so be it."

 

Although Channel 9 commentator Brad Fittler has voiced a similar opinion on the issue, Ackerman took aim at his colleagues Andrew Johns, Paul Vautin and Phil Gould.

"These guys have done it before. They will do it again," he said.

"No hearts in their bodies really … you just make me shake my head. To give them credit they have stuck by their opinions. They believe the shoulder charge should be brought back in.

"I believe they are wrong. And I have the right reason to believe they are wrong.

"I have these photos all throughout this house. This house is my brother's house that he can't live in.

"His kids are here. He can't see them. His mum is here. She can't see her boy anymore.

"Dad is here, no son. I have got no brother. My other brother Tom has got no brother.

"And all because of a shoulder charge. Which is why I voice my opinion.

"We shouldn't see shoulder charges anymore.

"And if we do jump on them and get rid of the blokes who use them.

"Same with spear tackles. Same with cheap shots.

"I don't care how tough you are or how tough the game was or if fans are leaving.

"I couldn't give a shit. None of that is going to bring my brother back.

"Get rid of it. Billy Slater should miss the grand final. That is it."

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