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Roosters forward Vanessa Foliaki.

The game's most studious players have been recognised with selection in the NRL Academic Team of the Year.

Many players have achieved excellence on and off the field by working towards or completing a qualification in 2019.

Wests Tigers prop Russell Packer, who already has a commerce degree and is now completing a Masters of Business Administration, was crowned the Male Academic Player of the Year.

"It's an absolute honour to be selected for this award," Packer said.

"As players, we have so many great opportunities in front of us provided by our clubs, the NRL and the RLPA that can help make that transition smoother.

"I'd encourage all of you to make the most of those opportunities while they're there."

Russell Packer celebrates a Wests Tigers win.
Russell Packer celebrates a Wests Tigers win. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Roosters NRLW forward Vanessa Foliaki, a psychology student, earned the Female Academic Player of the Year title and described it as a "privilege and an honour".

"I am always trying to better myself on and off the field so to be a part of this team means I'm one step closer to achieving my goals," Foliaki said.

Melbourne and NSW winger Josh Addo-Carr received the Indigenous Academic Excellence award for undertaking a Certificate IV in Business.

Sharks forward Jayson Bukuya finished a Certificate III in Carpentry to win the Pasifika Academic Excellence gong.

Academic Team of the Year member Robbie Rochow has decided to hang up the boots at age 29 and the ex-Tigers back-rower is primed to succeed in his new chapter.

"My studies outside of rugby league have been a massive part of my life and I'm extremely grateful for the NRL supporting me with this throughout my career," said Rochow, a civil engineering student.

"My degree has always given me a great balance away from training and I'm excited for what's next."


Vanessa Foliaki - Sydney Roosters (Currently completing a Bachelor of Psychology, Massey University)

Matthew Lodge - Brisbane Broncos (Completed a Diploma of Business and currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Swinburne University)

James Tamou - Penrith Panthers (Currently completing a Cert III in Carpentry and Cert III & IV in fitness and completed small Business, EABS)

Penrith prop James Tamou.
Penrith prop James Tamou. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Will Hopoate - Canterbury Bulldogs (Completed a Diploma of Community Services and Cert IV in Community, Granville TAFE)

Brett Morris - Sydney Roosters (Currently completing a Cert III in Carpentry and Completed cert iv in small business, Gymea TAFE)

Daniel Alvaro - Parramatta Eels (Currently completing a Cert III in Carpentry, Meadowbank TAFE)

Toafofoa Sipley - Manly Sea Eagles (Completed a Bachelor of Education in High School teaching, University of Auckland)

Jamie Buhrer - Newcastle Knights (Currently completing a Bachelor of Sports Business Management, ACPE)

Coen Hess - North Queensland Cowboys (Currently completing Master of Business Administration and completed a Diploma of Hospitality and Diploma of Business Management, CQU)

Chanel Harris-Tavita - New Zealand Warriors (Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Auckland University of Technology)

Keegan Hipgrave - Gold Coast Titans (Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, QUT)

Russell Packer - Wests Tigers (Currently completing a Masters Business Administration, UNSW)

Robbie Rochow - Wests Tigers (Currently completing a Bachelor of Engineering, UNSW)

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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