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While they've been striving for excellence on the playing field in 2017, North Queensland Toyota Cowboys and scholars John Asiata (NRL) and Mitchell Dunn (NYC) have also been recognised on the national stage for their academic pursuits.

The players were named respectively in the 2017 NRL and NYC Academic Teams of the Year at the Rugby League Players Association's Player's Champion awards night in Sydney on Tuesday.

Asiata has been working towards a Diploma of Financial Planning and has completed a Cert IV in Youth Work, while NYC captain Dunn's studies focus on a Bachelor of Education.

Cowboys Wellbeing and Education Manager Kevin Marty said recognition of a player’s academic pursuits can only bring positive things to the game of rugby league; highlighting that it is possible to combine a professional athletic career with other vocational and tertiary studies.

“Players like John and Mitch are role models among their playing group and to the entire sport, showcasing the possibility to further their post-footy career prospects while playing at an elite level in their respective competitions,” Mr Marty said.

“It’s a big achievement, and a testament to the player’s and our club’s continued focus on striking a positive work-life balance.”

“We are very supportive of players looking to acquire valuable skills and qualifications by pursuing studies in their chosen future career paths.”

Senior NRL Wellbeing and Education Manager Paul Heptonstall is delighted to have hundreds of players representing the game so well off the field and achieving academic success.

"It's players like all those in the 2017 NRL and NYC academic teams that will help ensure the NRL, clubs and RLPA continue to prioritise the importance of engaging in education at all levels of our game," Mr Heptonstall said.

"It's also important to highlight that these successes can only be achieved with the great support from the many educational providers we work with throughout the country. It does not go unappreciated or unrecognised."

NRL-RLPA program highlights

  •  22% of all NRL and NYC players have, or are currently completing, a university degree
  • 15% obtaining a trade qualification
  • Almost 80% of all active NRL players having completed a level of vocational education and training qualification
  • 440 current and retired players receiving education grants from NRL wellbeing committee

NRL Academic Team of the Year

Cowboys: John Asiata (Diploma of Financial Planning, Cert IV in Youth Work, Monash Uni) 
Broncos: Tom Opacic 
Sharks: Chad Townsend 
Rabbitohs: Damien Cook
Dragons: Jacob Host
Storm: Christian Welch 
Titans: Anthony Don 
Eels: Tim Mannah 
Knights: Jamie Buhrer
Tigers: Ava Seumanufagai 
Sea Eagles: Tom Trbojevic 
Roosters: Luke Keary 
Canterbury Bulldogs: Michael Lichaa 

NYC Academic Team of the Year

Cowboys: Mitchell Dunn (Bachelor of Education, James Cook University)
Broncos: Patrick Carrigan 
Sharks: Billy Magoulias 
Bulldogs: Joseph Tramontana 
Dragons: Stuart Mason 
Panthers: Liam Martin
Titans: Tyronne Roberts-Davis 
Roosters: Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu 
Warriors: Eiden Ackland 
Eels: Dane Aukafolau 
Rabbitohs: Blake Manowski 
Tigers: Royce Tout 
Storm: Harry Grant 

See for more details.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour 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.