Eleven debutants including Brent Tate (Cowboys), David Shillington (Raiders), Jason Nightingale (Dragons) and Jeremy Latimore (Panthers) have joined two-time team members Ryan Hoffman (Storm) and Robbie Rochow (Knights) as part of the 2014 NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year.
Aaron Rockley (Broncos) has been named the inaugural NRL Tradesman of the Year while Sam Perrett (Bulldogs) and Jerome Ropati (Warriors) are the first players to receive the NRL Pasifika Academic Excellence Award.
Also announced today for the first time was the Holden Cup Academic Team of the Year to celebrate the achievements of the game's future players.
NRL-RLPA Welfare and Education Committee Mark Coyne said education and workplace training was important for progression in the workforce.
"We have a wonderful group of incredibly successful NRL players here today who have shown that both commitment to the game and study are achievable," Coyne said.
"Not only are these players a credit to themselves but are also an inspiration to all other young players showing that they too can balance further studies and a rugby league career.
"I would like to congratulate not only Holden Cup players who have achieved a place on the team today, but all Holden Cup players who are part of the game's new generation committing to both a career in football and further studies."
Academic Team of the Year inclusion Brent Tate said he could not emphasise the importance of workplace training and study enough.
"For me, having a conversation with Wayne Bennett a few years ago I realised the importance of getting an education," Tate said.
"It was not long after that I realised I had to start the wheels in motion in terms of studying.
"As a result I am feeling more prepared to enter the workforce when I approach the back end of my career."
NRL-RLPA Program Highlights
• 78% (800) of NRL and NYC players are currently engaged in further education or workplace training. The NRL is committed to growing that percentage to 84% by 2017.
• 220 players enrolled in a university degree at the start of the 2014 season, a significant increase from the 68 players that enrolled in the 2008 season.
• 24% of Indigenous players in the Holden Cup are attending university.
• Currently 18 academic institutions deliver the NRL's Graduates of League program. The completion rate of all players attempting university courses has increased from 60% to 87% in just two years.
• 330 players from junior representative teams, NYC, state cups and the NRL undertaking apprenticeship are mentored by current and former NRL players.
• There have been 350 education grants provided to players in the 2014 season from the NRL/ RLPA Education fund, totalling over $450,000.
NRL Academic Team of the Year
Broncos: Todd Lowrie - Cert IV in Project Management; Cert IV in Small Business (Capital Training Institute & Arouni Tech)
Bulldogs: Dale Finucane Bachelor of Health and Movement (Australian College of Physical Education)
Raiders: David Shillington - Bachelor of Business; Diploma of Business (University of Canberra)
Cowboys: Brent Tate - Cert IV Frontline; Cert IV Small Business (Skill 360)
Sea Eagles: Tom Symonds - Graduated Bachelor of Health Exercise Science (University of NSW)
Sea Eagles: Brenton Lawrence - Bachelor of Arts in International studies; Certificates III and IV in Training (Australian Institute of Workforce Development)
Storm: Ryan Hoffman - Bachelor of Business (Open Universities)
Knights: Robbie Rochow - Degree in Civil Engineering (University of Newcastle)
Panthers: Jeremy Latimore - Bachelor of Commerce (University of Wollongong); Panthers Education Ambassador
Panthers: Ryan Simpkins - Diploma in Hydraulics Design (St Leonards Tafe); Qualified Plumber
Rabbitohs: Jason Clark - Cert III Fitness and Cert IV in Small Business (Australian Institute of Fitness & Elite training company); Qualified Apprentice Carpenter
Dragons: Jason Nightingale - Bachelor of Business Degree (University of Wollongong)
Warriors: Siliva Havili - Bachelor of Health Science - Podiatry (Auckland University of Technology
NYC Team of the Year
Bulldogs: Adam Elliott - Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) (Sydney University)
Raiders: Andrew Heffernan - Bachelor of Sports Coaching & Exercise Science (University of Canberra)
Cowboys: Corey Jensen - Degree in Sport & Exercise Science (James Cook University)
Titans: Mitch Sharp - Bachelor of Nursing (Griffith University)
Sea Eagles: Jack Delaney - Bachelor of Business & Commerce (University of Western University)
Storm: Christian Welch - Bachelor Commerce degree (Melbourne University)
Knights: Lachlan Fitzgibbon - Bachelor of Construction Management (University of Newcastle)
Panthers: Joshjua Tangitau - Degree in Exercise Sports Science (Australian Catholic University)
Sharks: Ben Chahoud - Carpentry Apprenticeship With Bronson Construction
Rabbitohs: Cheyne Whitelaw - Bachelor of Exercise Physiology (University of New South Wales)
Dragons: Adam Clune - Degree in Law (University of Wollongong)
Warriors: Mason Lino - Bachelor of Business (Auckland University of Technology)
Wests Tigers: Nathan Milone - Bachelor of Business (University of Technology Sydney)
Tradesman of the Year Award & Apprentice Mentor
Broncos: Aaron Rockley - Qualified Carpenter (All Trades Queensland); Currently employed by Brett Walters
Adam Brideson - State Manager KPD
NRL Pasifika Academic Excellence Award
(Proudly sponsored by the NRL and Diamond Galleria)
Warriors: Jerome Ropati - Diploma in Business & Bachelor of Health (Auckland University of Technology); NZ University Blues Award winner 2008; Warriors Education Committee Member & Ambassador; Warrior Reading programme captain; Deacon Youth Leader of local church since 2007
Bulldogs: Sam Perrett - Diploma in Management; Cert IV Building and Construction; Qualified Builder; "Trade-Up with the NRL" apprentice mentor; NRL Education Ambassador 2012/2013/2014