Players head west for Close the Gap Round

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This week’s ‘Close the Gap’ round will have a major impact on the finals aspirations of NRL teams but it is also having a profound effect on the lives of children in Indigenous communities in far western NSW.

Since Sunday, Roosters captain Braith Anasta, team-mate Nate Myles and One Community ambassadors David Peachey and Mario Fenech have been visiting remote communities around Broken Hill, Menindee and Wilcannia to teach children about Rugby League’s Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well health program.

It’s part of Rugby League’s commitment to helping close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by promoting healthy lifestyle messages.

Currently, Indigenous Australians live more than a decade less than non-Indigenous Australians and suffer from higher risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and kidney failure.

“A visit like this really highlights how much Rugby League means to local communities,” Anasta said.

“It’s been a real eye opener. I am not sure who has got more out of it, us or the kids.

“They have asked plenty of questions and have really embraced the healthy living messages.

“If us being here helps just one kid, well then it has been worth it.”

This week’s Close the Gap round, Round 23 of the Telstra Premiership, features the annual Reconciliation Cup match between the Cowboys and Bulldogs in Townsville.

With just two points separating fifth from 12th on the Premiership table, ‘Close the Gap’ has taken on new meaning in terms of the race for the finals with the Eels, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Broncos, Knights and Wests Tigers all fighting to secure positions in the top eight with just four rounds remaining.

Click here to find out more about the Close the Gap Round