UPDATE: 

A ROUND of applause for a man taken too soon. 

Hundreds of people, mostly from the rugby league fraternity formed a line along Sunshine Coast Stadium oval in a guard of honour for James Ackerman. 

The casket was lowered into the vehicle and driven past James' mates. 

A round of applause erupted as the car drove past. Some wiped tears from their eyes in a sign of respect for their friend. Others linked arms in a show of united support.

A private burial will follow the service.

UPDATE: 

THE parents of James Ackerman have been labelled as the most resilient and brave couple ever encountered.

Matt Adamson, represented the Melbourne Storm when he took to the stage at a funeral service this morning.

With James' casket just metres away, drapped with his number 8 jersey, Mr Adamson said his hard working attitude and caring personality were testament to his upbringing. 

"When you spend time with James' parents you see where he got his values from.

"Sonya and Michael Ackerman are two of the most inspiring people I've ever met.

"Their resilience, their understanding, their passion and their grace. 

"The way in which they've dealt with this is inspiring."

Mr Adamson surely echoed the thoughts of the crowd when he said the league fraternity would stand by James' wife Saraa and his two children Ollie and Milly for years to come. 

The James Ackerman fund has raised more than $74,000 for the family.

"Many years and days will pass, but Ackers will always live in your hearts, forever," Mr Adamson said. 

"We have an obligation to support Saraa and Ollie and Millly today, tomorrow, this month, this year- for a very long time, emotionally, physically and financially."

Following James' death, his family- including wife Saraa, children Oliver and Milly, parents Michael and Sonya and brothers Andrew and Tom- thanked family and friends for their support.

EARLIER:

FAMILY has taken to the stage to remember their much-loved nephew, James Ackerman. 

Statements have been read from James' family in front of crowd of more than 1000 people. 

Ackers as they called him, started playing rugby league at a young age in a small country New South Wales town before his family moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2001.

His uncle recalled the story of the moment he realised his new school, Talara College, specialised in AFL. 

Not deterred., James played with his heart on his sleeve and the team made it to the grand final. He went straight back to his love of rugby league when he moved to Mountain Creek State High School.

His uncle spoke of how league was the perfect outlet for him to make new friends in a new town.

His rugby league career and popularity flourished from there. He started at Caloundra Sharks juniors and grew his love for league during school- based teams.

Todd Murphy, his former team mate at Sunshine Coast Falcons, spoke of his memories of James in a video montage.

Mourners heard how the rough and tumble rugby player loved and respected his mum and his dad. 

"We watched James grow from a young man to a great father over the years."

His uncle spoke of how James' focus in life shifted, once his family started, with wife Saraa.

He recalled a competitive, "gentle giant", who lived every day as if it had been his last, and one whose legacy would live long in the hearts of friends and family left behind.

James had a strong love for his mum, dad and family. His love and respect for his mother was recalled as well as the typical "father-son-relationship"

A video tribute has started, showing highlights of his promising rugby league career from juniors to the Colts, Broncos under 20s and Sunshine Coast Falcons.

James Ackerman funeral.
James Ackerman funeral.

EARLIER: 

HUNDREDS of mourners have arrived at Sunshine Coast Stadium ahead of the public funeral for James Ackerman. 

The sheer numbers expected at the 11am service today show how much the 25-year-old rugby league player's death has touched the nation. 

A life lost too soon. 

At 10.30am, seats at stadium were starting to fill with mourners for the special tribute.

James Ackerman is expected to be farewelled by hundreds at Sunshine Coast Stadium today.
James Ackerman is expected to be farewelled by hundreds at Sunshine Coast Stadium today. Megan Mackander

A stage has been set up in the middle of the oval with three framed images of the much-loved Sunshine Coast Falcons player propped on easels.

The father of two's jerseys  will showcase his successful rugby league career.

A contingent from Redcliffe arrived to join the tribute.

The father of two and Sunshine Coast Falcons player was knocked unconscious during a tackle just minutes into a Queensland Cup match against the Norths Devils in Brisbane on June 20.

Two days later the forward had still not regained consciousness and died in hospital.

RELATED:

A public outpouring of grief followed his death and the nation has stood behind the Ackerman family in their darkest days. 

Rugby league players across the country dropped to one knee throughout the week to remember a man who was universally respected. It was part of a social media initiative #takeakneeforackers.

This morning's funeral will be a chance for the community to say goodbye.

NRL players, coaches and administrators are expected to be among those who will pay their respects today.

They will be joined by what is expected to be a huge crowd of locals who will turn out in a show of unity for the Ackerman family, who had shown incredible strength following James' death.

It's expected there will be a mixture of formal attire and club colours at today's public service, with youngsters from around the Coast expected to don their jerseys to pay tribute to a man who from all accounts was one with a huge heart.

Falcons' CEO Chris Flannery said there would be seating set up on the field for today's service, as well as the grandstand's capacity, and a big screen set to display a touching tribute to James.

Already $74,000 has been raised through crowd funding for James' family- his wife Saraa and children Ollie and Milly. 

TRIBUTES: Local teams, including Maroochydore and Nambour’s division one sides, honoured James Ackerman’s life through a series of initiatives played out on suburban grounds.
TRIBUTES: Local teams, including Maroochydore and Nambour’s division one sides, honoured James Ackerman’s life through a series of initiatives played out on suburban grounds. Jason Dougherty

HOW TO HELP

To donate to the Ackerman Family Trust Fund direct deposits to:

Bank of Queensland

BSB: 124 001

Acc No: 1150 0777

Ref No: 151 181

 


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