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Posted by RLPA

June 10, 2020

Career Development: Dale Copley

The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) has launched a new content series promoting career development opportunities for players and the importance of planning for life after footy.

The Career Development Q&A will each week feature a player who has engaged in meaningful development opportunities away from the field, providing an insight for other players and the industry about their journey.

The content series also highlights academic achievements from within the playing group, many of which have utilised the support available through the NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education program.

Part 3 of the Career Development Q&A features Gold Coast Titans player and RLPA Director, Dale Copley.

Q1 What off field development are you completing or have completed?

I am currently completing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at Queensland University of Technology.

Q2 Why did you choose this field?

I chose this field because it provides such a wide range of career opportunities. In 2013 I had completed a year of a Bachelor of Pharmacy but found it really difficult due to the amount of time I was required to be on campus. I chose law due to the career flexibility it’ll provide down the track.

Q3 Did you always have this career path in mind?

No. Initially I was set on a career in the medical field. I started a Bachelor of Pharmacy in 2009 straight out of school. The initial plan was to complete pharmacy and go onto medical school. But due to the practical element of the degree I was missing too much as a result of pursuing a rugby league career at the same time.

Q4 Have you utilised any support available to players through the NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education program?

The NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education program has been a huge benefit for me. As can be expected due to our schedule dealing with periods of intense training and travel it can be quite difficult to meet the assessment dates set by the University. The education coordinators at all three clubs I’ve played at have helped me navigate both changing exam times and gaining extensions for assignments when that might be required.

Q5 What plans or goals do you have for post-retirement?

I think I will probably have 6-12 months left to complete my degree. I’m still relatively undecided which area of law I would like to end up in. Hopefully I can land somewhere with some variety so I’m able to be exposed to different types of work.

Q6 If you could give yourself one piece of career advice back in your rookie year what would it be?

I think I’d tell myself to knock as much study over as possible whilst I wasn’t playing regular first grade. I probably missed a good opportunity whilst I was in the NYC competition to knock more subjects off my degree.

Q7 How important is it for players and the industry to prioritise career development opportunities? 

For me it should be very high on the priority list. I’m a huge believer that having goals and aspirations away from the football field is extremely healthy for players’ mental health. Rugby League can be a rollercoaster for a number of reasons so having something else to occupy your mind and other goals to achieve helps so much through injury, form slumps and losing streaks.

The industry has taken huge leaps forward in the area of helping players develop for their post football life and I’d love to see that continue. I love hearing stories of players and ex-players achieving things away from football due to the development their club and the game provided whilst they were playing.

Q8 How have the skills you have developed through playing NRL helped with your educational development?

Playing a team sport develops a range of skills which has been beneficial for me in my study. Group assignments are quite common in law so being able to apply so many skills that rugby league develops has helped complete those assignments and fit into my group seamlessly. A lot of time I will be put in a group who all have close relationships so feeling confident to speak up when perhaps the other members of a group all have a different ideas has helped on numerous occasions.

Q9 How important is having the support of your coach and football staff when pursuing education options?

It’s vital. Without the support of the entire club studying and pursuing a rugby league career would be extremely difficult. Exam period can be difficult to navigate but I’ve never had a coach or any member of staff put up any resistance when I’ve asked for some time off to complete an exam.

Q10 Was there a time you felt like giving up on your studies and if so, what helped you keep going?

For me there hasn’t been. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many of my close mates in the game be forced into early retirement due to injury. That has periodically sent a strong message to keep going no matter how difficult it may be at the time.

Stay tuned for next week’s Career Development Q&A with another member of the RLPA Player Advisory Group!

PART 1: Chris Lawrence

PART 2: Christian Welch

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