UOW hosts NRL Rookie Camp
More than 250 of Rugby League’s future stars are taking part in extensive induction programs -- but their time will be spent entirely in the lecture rooms of universities (including Wollongong) and not the football fields.
The annual Rookie Camp program involves players from all 16 clubs entering the NRL Under 20s Cup in 2013 being put through training in media, cultural awareness, drugs and alcohol, social media, money matters, community work, social responsibility and personal presentation.
The Bond University event held last weekend was the first of three NRL Under 20s Cup Rookie Camps to be held over three consecutive weekends.
The second camp is being held at the University of Wollongong from Friday November 30 to Sunday December 2 with players from the Sharks, Dragons, Panthers, Wests Tigers, Raiders and Bulldogs.
The third and final round of the induction camps will be held at the University of Sydney Village from December 7-9, with players from the Roosters, Sea Eagles, Knights, Eels and Rabbitohs.
NRL Senior Welfare and Education, Mr Paul Heptonstall, said the Rookie Camp program underlines the NRL’s ongoing commitment to player education and career training with a goal of increasing the current engagement rate of 74 per cent of NRL players in education or career training to 84 per cent by 2017.
The unique combination of the induction camps, on-going education initiatives and a ground-breaking NRL Under 20s Cup competition that includes mandated non-training days and a “no work/study - no play rule”, sets the NRL program apart.
“Programs like the Rookie Camps are an important part of our overall strategy and philosophy,” Mr Heptonstall said.
“Players learn from the start of their Rugby League careers how important it is to plan for life after football, because unfortunately the average length of a career is three to four years.
“It is becoming a younger man’s game and our challenge is to accelerate these players’ awareness of not only their social responsibilities, but the fantastic opportunities that can be achieved through their involvement in the NRL.
“Each session at the Rookie Camps is co-facilitated by a current or former NRL player who gives their first-hand experience on the path each of these players could take in a variety of scenarios and across a wide range of areas.”
Jack Stockwell who has taken part in a previous program spoke about its value at today’s Wollongong launch. The NRL Player Welfare and Education Programs Manager, Andrew Ryan, also addressed the media at the launch about the program’s benefits.
UOW’s Director of External Relations, Mr Canio Fierravanti, officially welcomed players and officials to the University. Program participants Harry Stewart and Logan Harris spoke about what they hoped to gain from the camp.
Mr Heptonstall said that with more than 170 NRL and National Youth Competition players enrolled in or completing a university degree in 2012, the NRL was very grateful to the three university campuses playing host to the Rookie Camps over the next fortnight.