NRL celebrates 2018 Academic Team of the Year

NRL stars Johnathan Thurston, Simon Mannering, Jason Nightingale, Dale Copley and Kody House were among some of the game's elite players recognised for their commitment to work, study and wellbeing at the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) Awards in Sydney last night.

For more than a decade, the NRL, in partnership with the RLPA, have acknowledged the efforts and exploits of those looking to better themselves away from the field.

There were 13 players selected in the NRL Academic Team of the Year, with Dale Copley from the Gold Coast Titans taking home the Male Academic Player of the Year.

Brisbane Broncos NRL Holden Women's Premiership player, Kody House, a qualified Diesel Mechanic and currently completing a Bachelor of Sports and Exercise, was awarded the Female Academic Player of the Year Award.

Retiring duo Johnathan Thurston and Jason Nightingale were also honoured with Indigenous and Pasifika Academic Excellence Awards respectively, recognising players who have gone above and beyond in their contribution to clubs, the community, work and study.

Senior NRL Wellbeing and Education Manager, Paul Heptonstall praised the commitment the playing group had shown to their Club's Wellbeing & Education programs and staff.

"It is important the game, media, community and fans, recognise the hard work and dedication NRL players do away from the field in preparing themselves for a life post-football," Mr Heptonstall said.

"Many are involved in working for or running a business, whilst raising young families and advancing themselves through vocational training or university education.

"All while meeting the high-expectations set for them as elite athletes. They should be proud of putting their futures in their own hands.

"A special congratulations must also go to Johnathan Thurston and Jason Nightingale for their leadership and support of the NRL's Wellbeing and Education programs throughout their illustrious careers," he said.

2018 NRL ACADEMIC TEAM OF THE YEAR

 Sydney Roosters  Isaac Liu  Currently completing a Cert IV in Graphic Design
 Canterbury Bulldogs  Aiden Tolman  Currently completing a Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Education
Cronulla Sharks Jayson Bukuya Currently completing a Carpentry Apprenticeship
Canberra Raiders Dunamis Lui Currently completing a Graphic Design Pathway Program / completed a Cert IV in Small Business
New Zealand Warriors Simon Mannering Currently completing a Certificate in Quantity Surveying
North Queensland Cowboys Michael Morgan Currently completing a Diploma in Hospitality Management and Business
Parramatta Eels David Gower Currently completing a Bachelor of Sports Business (Leadership) & completing a Elite Athlete Wellbeing
 Gold Coast Titans  Dale Copley  Currently completing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
 Brisbane Broncos  Korbin Sims  Completed a Cert IV in Building and Construction
 Melbourne Storm  Ryley Jacks  Currently completing a Cert IV in Building & Construction Management
South Sydney Rabbitohs Cameron Murray Currently completing a Diploma in Small Business Management / completed a Cert iv in Small Business Management
St George Illawarra Dragons Euan Aitken Currently completing a studying a Bachelor of Exercise Science
Brisbane Broncos NRLW Kody House Currently completing a Bach of Sports Exercise Science / completed a Diesel mechanic/ Cert iv in PT

MALE ACADEMIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Dale Copley – Gold Coast Titans

FEMALE ACADEMIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kody House – Brisbane Broncos

Indigenous Academic Excellence Award
Johnathan Thurston – North Queensland Cowboys

Pasifika Academic Excellence Awards
Jason Nightingale – St George Illawarra Dragons