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Posted by RLPA

December 15, 2023

Launching the Past Player & Transition Program

The Rugby League Players’ Association is pleased to announce the official launch and establishment of the Past Player and Transition Program that will provide world-leading support for players in periods of transition and retirement. 

As part of the negotiations for the 2023-27 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the RLPA successfully advocated and bargained for the setup of the Past Player and Transition Program to increase the connection and support available to NRL and NRLW players  
The Program will be governed and managed by the RLPA and will see existing services and funds available to players, as well as the creation of new funds and initiatives, under the one operation.  
Over the past few years, there has been strong feedback from players and industry stakeholders that there was a need for improved services, benefits and initiatives available to past players and players in transition.  

The RLPA recognises the previous work dedicated to this space by many people within and outside the industry.  

With the RLPA’s deep understanding of players and their corresponding challenges during and after their professional careers, the Program will naturally sit entirely under the Association’s management.  

Program Objectives and Pillars 

The purpose of the Program is to ensure players are:  

  • provided best practice support during periods of transition and in retirement from professional rugby league 
  • respected and rewarded for their contribution to professional rugby league 
  • provided every opportunity to remain actively connected to the game of rugby league and other players. 

The Program will provide support, benefits, services and initiatives that are categorised under the five (5) key pillars of the program: 

  • Transition 
  • Medical 
  • Financial 
  • Connection 
  • Mental Fitness 

Program Scope 

The Program delivers certain support to players who have previously held an NRL Top 30, NRLW Top 24, Supplementary List, or Development List Contract, or contract of equivalent status. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes those players who are subsequently playing in other leagues or competitions (e.g. State Cup and Super League) or in other sporting codes.  

The Program will primarily focus on providing transition-specific support for up to three (3) years post-retirement from professional rugby league.  

There will also be some engagement, services and benefits for up to 10 years post a player’s last NRL or NRLW playing contract. 

Program Staff 

The Program will be headed up by Tom Symonds who has commenced his new role as General Manager, Past Players and Transition.  

Working closely with Tom as Player Transition Managers will be Joe Galuvao and Keegan Hipgrave.  

The Player Transition Managers are fundamental to player engagement in the Program, and the implementation and uptake of initiatives. All players within the Program will be allocated a Player Transition Manager as their primary RLPA contact. There will be a strong focus on one-on-one, face-to-face support, and tailored Transition Plans for up to three (3) years post-retirement. 

Joe is incredibly well respected and will be a perfect addition given his ability to connect and build strong relationships with our current and past players. 

“The Past Player and Transition Program is something that really appealed to me because I want to be able to create real and long-lasting change for players,” said Joe on his appointment.  

“I have lived and seen some of the difficulties that players can go through. I believe that experience will leave me well-suited to lending my voice and knowledge to the players in the program. I want to help players make the most of the resources and networks available to them so that they can maximise their chances of flourishing once they finish playing professional rugby league.” 

Keegan only retired a short time ago, but he has already had great success off the field. The RLPA has no doubt he will continue to make a similar impact in his new role at the Association. 

“The opportunity to make a genuine impact is what truly excites me about working for the RLPA in the Past Player and Transition Program,” said Keegan. 

“The team at the RLPA genuinely prioritise what is best for the players and the game. The commitment to fostering positive change in the lives of players, coupled with a genuine passion for the sport, aligns perfectly with my professional values and aspirations. 

“I recognise that retiring from professional sports is one of the most significant challenges athletes face in their careers. I am eager to provide practical and emotional support, giving them the best chance of success in their post-playing careers.” 

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