Some footy skills can’t be learnt on grass

MANY potential NRL stars are taking part in a rookie camp at the University of Wollongong this weekend.

Former Canterbury Bulldogs captain and premiership winner, and now NRL player welfare and education programs manager Andrew Ryan was at the UOW yesterday to launch the second NRL under 20s rookie camp for the 2013 season.

Ryan joined St George Illawarra Dragons front rower Jack Stockwell, who is a graduate of the National Youth Competition and a UOW student, NRL senior welfare and education manager Paul Heptonstall, UOW director of external relations Canio Fierravanti, UOW senior accounting and finance lecturer Sam Jebeile, and Dragons under-20s NYC players Logan Harris and Harry Stewart in launching the rookie camp.

Ryan is one of the presenters at the camps, which give players extensive training in media, cultural awareness, drugs and alcohol, social media, money matters, community work, social responsibility and personal presentation.

He stressed the importance of finding balance in the lives of footballers.

‘‘What we’re involved in is obviously results-driven. So to have something to take the emphasis off that – even if it’s wins or losses – you still have something else to think about,’’ Ryan said.

‘‘It’s also mixing with different people. You’re getting to know people in your courses and doing what you’re doing.

‘‘We in the NRL want these young players to match their rugby league passion with their passion in the workforce as well. So, if we can get them to start thinking about something they’re passionate about, then it helps them out as well. They’re steps ahead of everyone else.’’

Stockwell, who is studying for a commerce degree, said it was important for players to further their education and to be aware of what the rookie camp had to offer.

‘‘I’m trying to manage my workload between studying and playing football as well,’’ Stockwell said. ‘‘It’s pretty tough but it’s something I think that everyone should do.’’

Both Harris, from Tamworth, and Stewart, from Wagga Wagga, have joined the Dragons NYC squad in the off-season and are keen to attend the UOW.

For the first time, the UOW is hosting more than 90 players from the Dragons, Bulldogs, Cronulla Sharks, Penrith Panthers, Wests Tigers and Canberra Raiders.

The UOW camp, which will be completed tomorrow, is the second of three three-day rookie camps involving more than 250 players from all 16 NRL clubs who will be entering the NRL under 20s Cup next year.

The first camp was at the Gold Coast’s Bond University last weekend and the final camp will be at the University of Sydney next week, December 7 to 9.

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