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2016 NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year

Tue, 13 Sep 2016

Seven debutants including Adam Blair (Broncos), Jake Trbojevic (Sea Eagles), Kurt Baptiste (Raiders) and Russell Packer (Dragons) were named alongside five two-time winners and a three-time recipient in Ryan Hoffman (Warriors) as part of the 2016 NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year.

Ryan James (Titans), Josh Jackson (Bulldogs), Daniel Mortimer (Titans), Jeremy Latimore (Panthers) and James Tedesco (Tigers) were acknowledged for the dedication shown to balancing their studies with football commitments for a second time, while boom Panthers rookie Nathan Cleary was also included in the Holden Cup Academic Team of the Year.

Dane Gagai (Knights) and Ray Thompson (Cowboys) were awarded Indigenous Leadership and Excellence Awards, with Warrior Ben Henry and Shark Sam Tagataese picking up the Pasifika Award for Leadership and Excellence. The four winners will travel to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to attend lectures, share stories and celebrate their achievements on an international scale.

Henry, who was forced into early retirement in 2016 at the age of 24 due to multiple recurring injuries, was delighted at winning an award as well as the trip to UCLA.

“I’m very honoured and humbled to receive this award. I’ve had a tough year, but I guess there’s a light at the end of every tunnel and this is it for me,” Henry said. 

“It’s going to be an enjoyable experience. I’ve talked to Jerome Ropati and he enjoyed his time over there, so I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Senior NRL Wellbeing and Education Manager Paul Heptonstall expressed his delight at seeing so many players now enrolled in University or Certificate programs and making the selection of players in this Academic team much more competitive.

“The most pleasing aspect of this increased educational engagement is that the very best player’s in the game are showing that it is very possible to combine a professional athletic career with other vocational pursuits,” Mr Heptonstall said.

“It’s a wonderful achievement really and testament to the players continued commitment to balancing their life off the field.

“They are the ideal example for the next generation of professional athletes to follow; that there is much more to life than football.”

NRL-RLPA Program Highlights

  • 800 of the 1000 NRL and NYC players are currently engaged in further education or workplace training.
  • 21% of NRL and NYC players enrolled in a university degree at the start of the 2016 season 
  • 40% of NRL and NYC attempted a Certificate to Diploma program with approx. 15% of these doing a formal trade apprenticeship.
  • Currently 18 academic institutions deliver the NRL's Graduates of League program. The completion rate of all players attempting university courses has continued to increase with 85% of all subjects attempted being passed. 
  • There have been $600k in education grants provided by the RLPA to over 400 different player’s education.
  • NRL Clubs have provided their players with an additional $2.4 million in educational incentives to engage in vocational pursuits away from football.
  • 16 of the 36 players to play in this year’s U/20’s Qld or NSW State of Origin teams were studying at University with the balance doing apprenticeships, trades or vocational experience.

NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year 

  • Roosters, Ian Henderson, Completed a Diploma of Financial Planning, KAPLAN
  • Titans, Ryan James, Currently completing a Bachelor Of Business, Griffith University
  • Panthers, Jeremy Latimore, Completed a Bachelor of Business, University of Wollongong
  • Tigers, James Tedesco, Currently completing a Bachelor Health & Exercise Science, ACU
  • Warriors, Ryan Hoffman, Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Open Universities
  • Broncos, Adam Blair, Currently completing a Bachelor of Social Science, ACU Brisbane
  • Rabbitohs, Michael Oldfield, Currently completing a Bachelor of Commerce, Macquarie University
  • Titans, Daniel Mortimer, Completed a Bachelor of Education (Physical and Health Education), Australian College of Physical Education
  • Bulldogs, Josh Jackson, Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise & Sports Science, University of Newcastle
  • Sea Eagles, Jake Trjbojevic, Completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Management, University Technology Sydney
  • Dragons, Russell Packer, Currently completing a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting & Finance), University of Wollongong
  • Eels, Daniel Alvaro, Currently completing a Bachelor of Business & Construction Management, University of Technology Sydney
  • Raiders, Kurt Baptiste, Currently completing a Bachelor of Engineering, Queensland University of Technology

NYC Academic Team of the Year

  • Storm, Ben Nakubuwai, Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University
  • Tigers, Jacob Liddle, Currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering, Macquarie University
  • Roosters, Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, Currently studying a Filmakers Intensive and completed a Cert IV in Graphic Design, Australian Film Television and Radio School
  • Sharks, Jayden Brailey, Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise & Sports Science, Australian Catholic University
  • Rabbitohs, Angus Crichton, Currently studying a Bachelor of Arts Media and Communications, University of Sydney
  • Titans, Sam Swift, Currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism, Griffith University
  • Panthers, Nathan Cleary, Currently completing a Bachelor of Arts Pathway to Secondary Teaching, University of Western Sydney
  • Dragons, Jack Payne, Currently studying a Bachelor of Physical Health and Education, University of Wollongong
  • Knights, Jack Cogger, Currently completing a Bachelor of Social Science, University of Newcastle
  • Eels, Jack Morris, Currently completing a Bachelor of Physical Activity and Health Science, Australian Catholic University
  • Raiders, Jack Hickson, Currently completing a Bachelor of Law and Business Administration, Australian National University
  • Broncos, Max Elliott, Currently completing a Bachelor of Sports & Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University
  • Cowboys, Ross Bella, 3rd Year Apprentice Electrician, Tafe Queensland

Pasifika Leadership and Excellence Award 

  • Sam Tagataese, Cronulla Sharks
  • Ben Henry, New Zealand Warriors

Indigenous Leadership and Excellence Award 

  • Dane Gagai, Newcastle Knights
  • Ray Thompson, North Queensland Cowboys

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