Why players keep their good deeds secret

Trent Hodkinson's act of kindness to take a terminally ill girl to her school formal last week reverberated around rugby league to such an extent that a social media post went viral, front-rowers were brought to tears and media outlets rushed to Newcastle to cover the story.

It was a story that was simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching but wasn't the only emotional tribute paid by an NRL player last weekend.

When Josh McGuire scored against the Bulldogs last Thursday night he pointed to the strapping on his wrist and the word 'Coops', a tribute to a two-year-old boy by the name of Cooper Brown whom McGuire only met four days prior to his passing from leukaemia last Monday.

On Monday another social media post highlighting Frank Pritchard's Saturday night spent supporting the 'Try Time' program in western Sydney that provides people with special needs the opportunity to play rugby league also went viral with Parramatta teammate David Gower and the likes of Greg Inglis and James Maloney retweeting the post.

Like Hodkinson taking Hannah to her formal they are the types of stories that deserve more regular media attention but one player who devotes many hours to community visits says any negative perception of players' motivation for working within the community means many prefer to keep such acts out of the spotlight.

Since arriving at the Titans midway through last year Konrad Hurrell has devoted himself to a number of community programs throughout the Gold Coast including working with special needs children and says Hodkinson's kindness demonstrated just what impact players can have on people's lives.


But as for seeking publicity for the good deeds that are done by players at all 16 NRL clubs each and every week, Hurrell says any negative connotations mean that they'd prefer it to be kept private.

"I was in that situation before, of having publicity for doing this stuff in New Zealand and I kind of felt like I didn't want to put it out in the public anymore. I just want to do it low-key," said Hurrell, who has been brightening the lives of the kids participating in the Touch Football Specialised program all year.

"It just feels like there are always negative people there thinking that he's just doing it to look good, he's not really doing it from the heart.

"I don't care if what I am doing is in the public anymore, I just want to do it for the kids and because I enjoy doing it as well. 

"I think that's why most players are scared to put it out there because there will be other people who think negative things about it, that they are only doing it so people think they're a good fella or whatever.

"I don't worry about people's opinions anymore. I just do what I know I want to do and if they bring any negativity I don't really care. I just do whatever I want and whatever is good for the kids."

Like so many people who read what Hodkinson did for Hannah or watched the video the Knights posted on their website Hurrell was deeply moved by the Newcastle No.7's actions, as were some teammates who play in the toughest position on the field.

"I saw it on Twitter and thought, Wow. I watched the whole clip of it and it was amazing," Hurrell said. "Who has the time to do that? It was something special. It should be the headline of everywhere.

"I've only met the bloke through footy but for him to do that is amazing. He should be the headline of every newspaper in Australia and New Zealand.

"I showed Ryan James and he nearly cried when he was watching it so it touches everyone.

"It's not just for the little girl but also for everyone else to watch and see what good he did and I'm pretty sure he didn't do it for any publicity or anything, he just did it for the little girl and her family. It's good to see people doing things like that."

Given his performances on and off the field this season, Hurrell could conceivably do the double of winning the Paul Broughton and Preston Campbell medals at the Titans' presentation night at the end of the year but says his willingness to engage with kids is born out of the impact his heroes had on him growing up in Tonga.

"People might think it the wrong way but for myself, I was in those shoes when I was a kid," said Hurrell.

"Running around in Tonga with nothing at all, I used to wag school sometimes just to go and meet the local players who played for Tonga. They were my superstars and it means a lot for me just walking around and watching them.

"Even finally making it to New Zealand and meeting my hero Jonah Lomu and just talking to him like a friend of mine, it was something special that I would never forget.

"That's the main reason that I'm doing it, because I know for some kids that's what they love and I've been in those shoes. I loved looking up to players that I love and that's why I take time mainly for the kids to do stuff like that and I'm more than happy to do whatever in my free time just to help out the kids.

"Even just to say hi or sign a few signatures, it's a good feeling because you were in those shoes before you made it.

"Playing footy, playing as a professional, that's part of my job and part of every NRL player's job, to have some little time for the kids."