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Victorian Brandon Taunoa is one of 15 national finalists named today for the 2013 Holden Volunteer of the Year Award, to be announced at the NRL One Community Awards that will kick off the Telstra Premiership Grand Final Week.

The father of five from Hoppers Crossing is among 87,629 Rugby League volunteers across Australia who dedicated their time to the sport in 2013, providing exceptional service performing various roles including Club Secretary, President, Treasurer, Sports Trainer and Team Manager at their community or district Rugby League clubs.

Mr Taunoa has been involved with Rugby League for 20 years and is the Altona Roosters Rugby League Club, where his five sons all play in the Under 7s, 8s, 11s, 14s and 16s.

In February this year, the Roosters were devastated when their clubrooms at Loft Reserve burnt down, but through a dedicated club effort Mr Taunoa the19 teams were back on the field for Round One.

“We lost everything; all our playing equipment, memorabilia, absolutely everything,” said Mr Taunoa.

“It was devastating and I was feeling overwhelmed as to how to lead the club.

“But with hard work and determination and a great core group of family and friends, we were able to overcome this and get a full set of teams back on the pitch.”

The other finalists are: QLD - Wendy Caroll (Miles), Greg Bunyoung (Bundaberg), Leanne Thomas (Tolga), Ian Murphy (Coalfalls, Ipswich); NSW - Jie Pittman (Kings Park), Grahame Wagener (Engadine), Amelia Horo (Cranebrook), Leoni Barnett (Five Dock), Charlie Bate (Caringbah), Lisa O’Born (Blayney), Michael Gleeson (Narrabri), Andrew Biddle (Merewether), Ann Thorburn (Wingham); and SA: Terrena Guest (Burton).

The winner will be announced on Monday, 30 September, at Sydney’s Town Hall at the seventh annual Once Community Awards, which is set to be an inspiring evening of celebration for the contributions made by Rugby League’s unsung heroes including volunteers, grassroots clubs, teachers, students, and NRL players.

“Every year we are blown away by the tireless contributions made by those in the grassroots Rugby League community,” said NRL Interim Community, Culture and Diversity General Manager, Mr Mark deWeerd.

“The efforts made by the 2013 finalists continue to inspire me and I couldn’t be more proud that the NRL is able to highlight the significant role volunteers play in our Game.”

The One Community Awards has a prize pool of over $50,000 across eight award categories including the Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra, Holden National Volunteer of the Year, Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Awards (Professional and Volunteer), Telstra One Community Grassroots Club of the Year, AAMI Service to Refereeing, AAMI Service to the Community Award, National Teacher of the Year (Primary and Secondary School) and the Young Indigenous Learn Earn Legend! Award.

Holden will provide will provide $2,500 to the winner of the 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award.

The 2013 Ken Stephen Medal finalists were announced earlier this month with club captains Michael Ennis, Terry Campese, Ben Creagh, Tim Mannah, Kurt Gidley and Nate Myles among the 15 nominated NRL players.

Follow the NRL One Community Twitter feed @rlonecommunity and the official NRL Twitter feed @NRL, and ‘like’ the NRL One Community Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the latest information.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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