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Posted by RLPA

May 25, 2020

Player Advisory Group steps up in challenging times

When the Player Advisory Group was established just 14 months ago, it was spruiked as a “forum for leading players to have a voice on some of the key challenges facing the game”.

Helping rugby league navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic? Probably not one of the challenges the group anticipated.

However, the Player Advisory Group (or PAG for short), has quickly become an essential asset for the RLPA.

The group have played a valuable role, particularly over the past two months – engaging in the countless meetings regarding the employment conditions for their fellow players and providing RLPA Clint Newton with insights to put forward in Project Apollo meetings.

“Our ability to work through a plethora of matters in a short space of time is a testament to the strong engagement and professionalism of  our members – most notably the PAG and delegates,” Newton said.

“It has been nothing short of outstanding, and we are incredibly grateful for their significant contribution.

“We will continue to harness their commitment moving forward, and the game will benefit by further collaborating with players.”

The group consists of 12 players from across the NRL competition. All with varied NRL experience and a broad range of qualifications.

Melbourne’s Christian Welch has graduated with Bachelor of Commerce degree and is currently studying a Masters of Business Administration (MBA).

Dale Copley is completing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours).

Chris Lawrence juggles training and playing with completing a Bachelor of Commerce and running his own business, One Wellbeing.

Blake Green is studying a Diploma of Business, having completed a Financial Planning Diploma and coaching certificates.

The list goes on…

NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education Manager, Paul Heptonstall, believes the investment in players’ personal development over the past decade is paying dividends.

“The modern-day player now has two really valuable traits that can be utilised by the game both during and after their career,” Heptonstall said.

“They have the experience of competing professionally in one of the toughest competitions in the world, but they are also educated or highly skilled and ready to enter the workplace due to the support the game offers.

“This is why it is so important to have players involved in the game’s decision-making process – and it is great that they have a vehicle for that through the RLPA player advisory group.

“It’s great to see a broad range of qualifications in this group, and they are in an excellent place to speak on behalf of the game.

“Not only are they making decisions for themselves, but they are in a perfect position to offer their insights for the good of the game.

“This is a product of what we have done in the game over the past decade and we have been striving to get here for many years.”

A new content series that is set to be launched this week, Career Development Q&A, will highlight some of these academic achievements from within the playing group and the importance of planning for life after rugby league.

The PAG operates between the RLPA Board of Directors and the Player Delegate structure.

Prior to dealing with the immediate challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the group discussed and formulated views on areas such as the wildcard concept, captain’s challenge and the state of the game.

The group will continue to meet regularly in 2020 to discuss the game’s challenges and opportunities – using their insights and feedback to help inform the approach of RLPA management.

RLPA Player Advisory Group 2020

  • David Gower (Cert IV in Elite Athlete Wellbeing, Diploma of Management, Qualified Electrician, Bachelor of Sports Business)
  • James Graham (Diploma of Business Management)
  • Darius Boyd (Cert III and IV in Fitness, Small Course on the Science of Wellbeing, Cert IV in Small Business)
  • John Asiata (Diploma in Financial Planning and Business, Cert IV in Community Services)
  • Blake Green (Diploma in Business, Diploma in Financial Planning, Certificate in Negotiation and Leadership at Harvard University, Level 3 Rugby League Coaching) 
  • Chris Lawrence (Bachelor of Commerce – Majoring in Sports Administration, Cert IV in Fitness)
  • Christian Welch (Bachelor of Commerce, Masters of Business Administration, Certificate in Negotiation and Leadership at Harvard University)
  • Joel Thompson (Diploma in Community Services, Cert IV in Drug and Alcohol)
  • Sia Soliola (Diploma in Business, Cert IV in Youth Work)
  • Wade Graham (Cert IV in Fitness)
  • Dale Copley (Bachelor of Laws – Honours)
  • Daly Cherry Evans (Diploma in Business)
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