Ex-Dragon Hunt continues to give back
When injury cut short his playing career, Dan Hunt knew he still had a role to play in rugby league.
The former Dragons front-rower has spent the past 12 months giving back to the game, helping spread messages about wellbeing to the local community.
Speaking at Athelstane Public School on Thursday morning, Hunt – along with several current Dragons players – spread the message of the importance of proper hydration, sleep and encouraging a strong sense of belonging.
"These are all important points that will help them be the best they can be," the Dapto Canaries Junior told NRL.com.
"We spend thousands and thousands of hours [going to schools] and the players dedicate their time to coming out here, and this health and wellbeing presentation really resonates with the kids.
"Throughout the year we still go and see these schools and make sure we see everyone in our catchment to make sure they're getting exposure to all the right messages."
Thursday's school visit wasn't a one-off for the club, with Hunt estimating there were roughly 50-70 similar seminars across the region over the two-day period.
"We've got a bit of a blitz on at the moment," Hunt continued.
"In this area and down in the Illawarra and south coast region, they're massive Dragons fans and they love supporting the Dragons and we support them in giving back in what we're doing today."
The humbly spoken 150-gamer is proud to be the club's Education Ambassador, a role made easier by his continued studies throughout his playing days.
Further to his work with local schools, Hunt is at the forefront of addressing the issue of mental health in and around the game.
"I'm a mental health ambassador and a brand ambassador with the NRL. We do a lot of stuff with remote communities and everywhere across Australia," he said.
"In particular, I do the mental health stuff where part of my role is to educate, destigmatise, raise awareness and promote help seeking behaviours in and around mental health – not just in the rugby league community, but in all aspects."
The 2010 premiership-winner might miss being out on the field with the boys, but he is proud to tackle the bigger issues – both societal and personal.
"I've got my own battles and I share my experiences to try to help and inspire others," the 29-year-old said.
"Using rugby league as the prime mover for that is very important, and the NRL is doing an awesome job in the programs we're rolling out in 2016.
"We've now got state of mind ambassadors from each one of the NRL clubs. That's a great step in the right direction, and hopefully we're going to lower the statistics."