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Posted by RLPA

May 30, 2024

Tolman: Nothing can prepare you for the emotions

In our series ‘Retired Rookies’, we catch up with some of the retiring Class of 2022 to find out what they got up to in their first year out of the game. Aiden Tolman shared with us some retirement lessons and thoughts for the current crop of players.

What did you do in the first year of your retirement from NRL?

AT: After 16 years living in Melbourne and Sydney, I moved back to my hometown, Kempsey. Before I moved, I applied to be the Regional Manager of Greater Northern NRL Game Development.

I was successful in getting the role and it’s great to be helping promote, grow, and develop the game in my local area.

What do you wish you knew about retirement that you didn’t know when you were playing?

AT: I feel like I was prepared as best as I could be for retirement. In saying that, nothing can prepare you for the emotions and uncertainty of retiring from something you have done for so long.

I had a plan and surrounded myself with support and people I could rely on.

What would you tell a young player about retirement?

AT: It would be different for every player. Some retire on their terms, whilst others aren’t as fortunate. Retirement should be seen as an opportunity to pursue another passion in your life, just like playing the game. It’s normal to be anxious and uncertain about the future.

Use the career advisor/education officer and resources at your club, the RLPA and the NRL to support you in your plan. Surround yourself with people you trust, whether that be friends, family or teammates and lean on them for support and guidance.

What is an area of growth for the game in regards to player transition?

AT: I believe the game is moving forward in growing the player transition program. Past players need to be supported in their transition out of the game.

Each player’s needs are different, but what all players lose to some extent is the connection to playing the game. Creating opportunities for connection through player mentors, training sessions and events is a great way to provide this.

What did you find most difficult about retiring from NRL?

AT: When playing, your schedule is structured. You are told when each session begins, what to wear and when it will finish, with little changes from week to week.

My new role is autonomous and it took me a while to get used to the almost opposite scheduling.

Why is the RLPA’s new Past Player and Transition Program so important?

AT: The program is important to provide support to past players and how to access it. It provides lived experiences that players can relate to, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Most importantly, it provides past players with connection to the game they love!

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