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Wests Tigers at the NRL Community Blitz.

Whenever proud Wests Tigers star David Nofoaluma visits a school, he aims to create a lasting memory for the starry-eyed children hanging on his every word.

"I try and be as inspiring as I can and just try to give them as much information or what I know about the game," the 27-year-old winger said.

"It's a part of what we do as rugby league players and it's nice to be able to do that ... It's always nice to go and do these things and seeing all the smiles on the kids' faces. It's good to give back."

After COVID-19 protocols restricted the amount of community engagement in 2020, the game is making up for lost time this year.

The whole Wests Tigers top-grade squad was spread across 60 schools on Thursday, connecting with more than 10,000 students in their local Southern Highlands, Inner West, Liverpool, Macarthur and Camden areas as part of an NRL Community Blitz.

Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua.
Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua. ©

Parramatta and Canterbury's squads conducted similar local school blitzes on Tuesday and Wednesday, while Newcastle (local), St George Illawarra (Mudgee), Gold Coast (Lismore), Penrith (local), South Sydney (Griffith) and Roosters NRLW (Central Coast) have activities planned in the coming weeks.

The work complements last week's NRL 'Your Local Club' Road to Regions program as well as the All Stars event in Townsville, which has engaged thousands of students, teachers and volunteers.

"Our program of school blitzes are a great opportunity for us to partner with NRL clubs to deliver our community programs and promote Club Rugby League participation to a large audience," NRL head of participation and community Luke Ellis said.

The importance of the Community Blitz

"Through these school visits we are able to deliver important messages about Resilience, Respect and Wellbeing using the 'League Stars Inspire' program, while also encouraging new participants to start their Community Rugby League journey with a local club.

"There is so much good work currently being undertaken by NRL clubs in the community, in both schools and local rugby league clubs.

"We look forward to seeing many new players join their local rugby league club this season."

Nofoaluma, who scored 17 tries last season, still remembers former Wests Tigers prop John Skandalis visiting his school during his formative years. He hoped to encourage more kids to play league.

"There's no better feeling than seeing our juniors come through the club. We don't want any other clubs taking away what the south-west or the inner-west can produce for the Wests Tigers," he said.

"We've got good young talent, especially around here with the Macarthur region. For myself, just seeing all those players coming through, because I've done it myself, not only is it good for the club but it's good for local juniors."

New Wests Tigers captain James Tamou.
New Wests Tigers captain James Tamou. ©

As for the campaign ahead, Nofoaluma expressed his excitement and said he felt settled after re-signing until the end of 2025.

"Once I got that sorted, I was able to focus on training and putting my best performance in once the season starts," he said.

"The player that stands out for me [at training so far] is James Tamou. He's been outstanding for our club so far since he's joined.

"It's very rare you see players be captain of a club [in their] first year with the team. He's been really impressive."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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