The NRL celebrates grassroots rugby league in Round 3 of the Telstra Premiership with the former Wests Devil junior and recently retired NRL legend, Beau Ryan, fronting the ‘PlayNRL’ Round campaign.
With most junior competitions set to kick off in the coming weeks, Junior Rugby League is anticipating its biggest year yet with close to 100,000 players, across 8,800 teams and 1,300 clubs from the Under 6s to Under 18s, already registered for the 2015 season in Australia.
"Reflecting on my junior playing days at Wests Devils in Illawarra, I am thrilled to be helping to spread the NRL message around PlayNRL," Ryan said.
"I had some of the best years of my life playing junior rugby league. There are times I'll never forget and my experiences definitely made me better as a person and as a player.
"It's fantastic to see a whole round dedicated to acknowledging the mums and dads, ball boys, coaches and referees, volunteers from the canteen and those who run the business side of the clubs, as without them there would be no game."
As part of the themed round, Ryan will front an advertising campaign, be involved in a Golden Boot game for kids and families and will tell his story – to be featured on nrl.com on Thursday.
NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said rugby league at all levels was all about having fun, making friends and staying healthy and the NRL was using this round to help promote Junior Rugby League and thank those who help make it all possible.
"It's important that we continue to recognise the role Junior Rugby League plays in making the game of Rugby League a success on and off the field," he said.
"It's also a time for current NRL players to give a shout out to their junior clubs and thank them for getting them to where they are."
Round 3 will kick off with two big games, when the Sea Eagles host the Bulldogs at Brookvale Oval and an all-Queensland affair between the Broncos and Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium.
All NRL clubs will be celebrating the junior game across the weekend at their home matches; Junior Rugby League games will be held pre-match and during half time, junior players will form guards of honour, and the Gold Coast Titans will wear their junior playing socks.
Ryan will also feature as a guest commentator in a virtual reality goal kicking game called "NRL Golden Boot" at three matches, (Manly Sea Eagles v Canterbury Bulldogs, Canberra Raiders v St George Illawarra Dragons, South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers), for fans to participate in and have the chance to win a range of great prizes.
"Playing sport and rugby league offers children numerous health, physical, social and academic benefits and the NRL is working continuously to improve the level of accessibility to our game and participants enjoyment," Greenberg said.
"This year we will see the introduction of a series of changes to the Modified Games in 2015 – this includes the Mini Footy and Mod League competitions and a new PlayNRL program that aims to offer participants a non-competitive and fun environment - through touch, tag and tackle options."
Join the conversation at #PlayNRL, get your tickets at nrl.com/tickets and get to a game this weekend. Celebrate the important roles every coach, player, referee, trainer and volunteer, at every level, plays in making rugby league the greatest game of all.
Those interested in joining the thousands of volunteers and players who love their League locally can sign up today at playnrl.com