NYC stars plan for the future
They are the future of our great game but some Holden Cup stars are already ensuring their post-NRL careers are tied up while concurrently making strides on the field.
Tevita Pangai Junior (Raiders)
Junior Kangaroo and potential 2016 NRL debutant Tevita Pangai Junior has had a fan in coach Ricky Stuart since the club legend's arrival at the Raiders, but off the field the younger brother of Tonga international Mosese has been studying a Bachelor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
An uncommon degree to say the least 19-year-old back-rower Pangai Junior was drawn to the degree after buying his first house.
"Just the word entrepreneurship caught my eye and really I'm just looking to get into real estate. I bought my first home this year so it's definitely a passion of mine so I'm really looking forward to buying a couple of more houses," Pangai Junior told NRL.com after being named in the Holden Cup Team of the Year in September.
"My degree helps me with the managing side of things I suppose you'd say – in terms of people and my portfolio.
"Sometimes mum might get a bit angry at me for watching too many movies and lying in bed so it's good to do something else other than training by studying and having something to fall back on."
Jacob Host (Dragons)
Former Australian Schoolboy Host is one of the best examples of how hard Holden Cup talent work to balance life on and off the field.
Studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science at ACU's Strathfield campus with the help of the NRL's Graduate of League program, Host studies a full complement of subjects (four courses a semester) while also travelling to Wollongong from Padstow – a 134-kilometre round trip – to train.
Signed until the end of the 2017 season Host eventually wants to focus in on nutrition but is happy focusing in on the fundamentals of the degree first and foremost.
"It's a fair bit of content so you have to manage your time well that's the main thing. If you fall behind just a little bit then it just starts to snowball," Host told NRL.com in July.
"It's definitely tough but it comes down to good communication with the lecturers at university. They are pretty lenient and understand the situation I'm in so that definitely helps. They really compensate for us when we have to miss exams or assignments because of games and training."
Bradie Smith (Knights)
NYC Apprentice of the Year Bradie Smith is a 20-year-old forward who almost racked up 50 games in his time in the Holden Cup and is a standout in the game off the field as well as on it.
Studying a Certificate III in Carpentry and having established his own building company Bradie Smith Carpentry, the Muswellbrook junior is taking definite strides in the right direction.
On top of that Smith has to contend with a 200-kilometre trip between Jerrys Plains and Newcastle for training.