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For the first time, the NRL Academic Team of the Year will be announced tomorrow in recognition of those players who have excelled in their educational development off the field as well as their playing performances with their NRL clubs every week.

Not only are each of the selected players great role models for other elite athletes, they have proven that engagement in post playing career development has not weakened their ability to play Rugby League at the highest levels.

Players have been nominated by their clubs based on their educational outcomes, consistent playing performances, and positive influence on other athletes within their clubs. The NRL Education and Welfare Committee, which brings together representatives of the major stakeholders – RLPA, NRL, clubs, past players and independent experts, voted on the final team of 17 players.

Selected players will each be awarded an iPad from the NRL, which is designed to help the players continue their educational programs even when traveling with their teams.

Currently there are 62 NRL players and 98 Toyota Cup players studying a degree at universities across Australia and New Zealand ranging from Engineering to Education. This represents close to 1 in 5 players at every club. A further 55% of players in both grades have engaged in Vocational Education and Training which includes 120 apprentices.