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Flanagan and Stimson named in 2021 Academic Team Of The Year

The RLPA, in partnership with the NRL, are delighted to announce the 2021 Academic Team of the Year.

In a challenging year, throughout which traditional learning has been difficult, the 13 men and women elected have shown outstanding commitment to their studies and self-development away from the game.

RLPA Chief Executive Clint Newton said of the Academic Team of the Year:

“We congratulate the academic achievements of the 2021 Academic Team of the Year, who deserve recognition for their steadfast commitment to their studies during another season of challenge and significant disruption. Despite these challenges, this group has shown determination to remain engaged in career development and are each worthy of their place in this Academic Team worth celebrating.

The list of vocations the group have undertaken is varied with players engaging in studies from Carpentry Certificates to Education degrees. Aside from the academic accolades and potential for career development, the sentiment of the players selected reflected broader benefits in their personal and professional lives, echoed by Penrith Panthers Mitch Kenny who said that he felt that his studies had made him ‘more well-rounded” and they were a “welcome distraction from the negative sides of football."

Manly talisman Tom Trbojevic, currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Finance with a Bachelor of Economics and Bronco Tarryn Aitken, who is currently completing her Honours in Psychology, were singled out for praise as the male and female academic players of the year.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said Trbojevic’s stellar season was a great example of discipline and determination culminating in success on and off the field.

“In what has been a challenging season, the tenacity of players to continue their studies during the competition’s relocation is a testament to their dedication, and Tom is proof of that”

Whilst RLPA CEO Clint Newton applauded Tarryn’s dedication to personal and professional development.

“We commended Tarryn for her achievements during a difficult 2021 and applaud the dedication shown towards her personal and professional development. The example that Tarryn has set for not only her fellow players but for those wishing to engage in a career in Women’s Rugby League is exemplary.”

The RLPA and NRL Wellbeing & Education team are dedicated to providing players with opportunities to engage in further education, seeing it as a vital aspect of their success both on and off the field.

NRL Wellbeing & Education Manager Paul Heptonstall said it was a great credit to players who had continued their studies with the added challenge of relocating this season.

“The NRL has always valued the importance of education and work experience outside of football commitments for players, and time has proven it has a positive impact on their lives as a whole,” said Mr Heptonstall.

“We’ve always supported players engaged in activities outside of rugby league as it prepares them for post-football, but we know it helps their football as well. Being engaged in something off the field allows them to have a fresh perspective on footy.

“Guys like Tom Trbojevic, James Tedesco and Luke Keary who are studying or have finished degrees proves that many of the elite players are also balanced people.”

Of 542 contracted players, 108 have completed or are completing higher education degrees including their Masters. More than 50 are finished or engaged in apprenticeships while 179 are currently working on VET qualifications. Health and sport-related disciplines are the most studied, followed by business.
2021 Academic Team Of The Year

Tom Trbojevic (Currently completing a Bachelor of Applied Finance with Bachelor of Economics, Macquarie University)

Joe Stimson (Currently completing a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education, Southern Cross University)

Kyle Flanagan (Currently completing a Bachelor of Construction Management, Western Sydney University)

Patrick Carrigan (Currently completing a Bachelor of Physiotherapy – 3rd year, University of Queensland)

Mitch Rein (Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Griffith University)

Aiden Tolman (Currently completing a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education, Southern Cross University)

Elliott Whitehead (Currently completing a Certificate IV Career Development, completed a Certificate IV Elite Athlete Wellbeing Management, Career Development Centre)

Shaun Lane (Currently completing a Graduate Diploma of Psychology, completed a Bachelor of Health Science, Sydney University)

Mitch Kenny (Currently completing a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education, University of Technology, Sydney)

Lindsay Collins (Currently completing a Bachelor of Business (Property Economics)/Certificate III in Carpentry, Western Sydney University)

Drew Hutchison (Currently completing a Bachelor of Education (Primary), completed Cert IV in Small Business, University of New England)

Brydie Parker (Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise Science – Physiotherapy, Australian Catholic University)

Tarryn Aiken (Currently completing Honours, completed Bachelor of Psychology, Griffith University)