Reading and rugby league go hand in hand: Rose

Former rugby league player and current NRL Ambassador George Rose was on hand to take part in the National Simultaneous Storytime reading at the NRL Learning Centre on Wednesday. 

The nationwide event was watched by over 70 schools across Australia and New Zealand via Livestream and helped promote the importance of education and literacy through the children's book I Got This Hat. 

The premiership winning forward said the fact current and former players were teaming up to take part in the NRL's reading programs was helping to get the messages across to kids. 

"I always say that as rugby league players you have a very powerful voice," Rose told NRL.com at Rugby League Central. 

"Usually there's more chance of a young person listening to you than they may listen to other people. If we encourage that reading is cool, it's going to make them think about it. It might not get them across the line but at least it will get a few extras involved in reading."

NRL Education Officer Stacey Taranto said it was crucial for rugby league players to embrace the responsibility of promoting healthy reading practises as they are the ones most likely to help get the message across to young children. 

"Being encouraged to read is one of the messages that kids get at school every day," she said. 

"For a lot of children they do listen to that, but when they hear it from their favourite rugby league player – even if it's not their favourite rugby league player – they'll say 'he played rugby league and he thinks reading is important,' then that really makes a difference.

"Having heroes there really drives home those messages that teachers and educators have been promoting. Kids listen to their heroes and the people they look up to." 

According to Rose, one of the most important lessons he wants to send is that rugby league and reading go hand in hand. 

"You wouldn't think that rugby league players are required to read, but it's a prerequisite for us players. Like anything you do in life, you need to be a competent reader," the former front-rower said. 

"You usually get about 10 pages of tip sheets coming into a game talking about all the plays that we want to run and information on each individual player you're coming up against.

"If you don't know it then you'll get on the field and not actually know what the team is doing. 

"After the game you get another 10 pages of feedback on what you've done and you can also read the feedback on every other player from the team as well. The feedback we receive makes us better players so being able to read is huge for players."

It's not just before and after games when rugby league players like to read. While his choice of literature might have changed over the years, reading has and always will be an integral part of Rose's life. 

"A lot of rugby league players enjoy reading. We do a lot of travelling and guys love their magazines and book and newspapers," he said. 

"As a kid I always liked the Roald Dahl books. They were different and they encouraged you to have a big imagination. The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) was my favourite because I could relate to it. I always loved the Goosebumps books as well because they were scary. 

"As I got older I started to read about other people through autobiographies and learning about other sportspeople and successful people who have experienced the tough times and the good times.

"I think you can always draw from those things to make yourself a better person. That's the thing about reading. It will always inspire you. 

"When I was a kid reading those imaginative, non-fiction stories, it built my imagination and inspired me to want to be things like a police officer or even a wizard – mainly because of Harry Potter."