Vodafone Warriors forward Steve Rapiras support for the club's Breakfast Warriors initiative and his community-wide efforts have earned him a nomination for the prestigious Ken Stephen Medal, to be announced at the 2013 NRL One Community Awards which will kick off Grand Final Week in late September. Photo: Photosport


The award, won last year by Nortyh Queensland's Johnathan Thurston, recognises an NRL player who has demonstrated exceptional community service.


Rapira is among 15 finalists including NRL club captains Michael Ennis (Bulldogs), Ben Creagh (Dragons), Kurt Gidley (Knights), Terry Campese (Raiders), Nate Myles (Titans), Tim Mannah (Eels) and Billy Slater (Storm), as well as Ben Ross (Sharks), former Vodafone Warrior Brent Tate (Cowboys), Scott Prince (Broncos), Clint Newton (Panthers), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves Roosters), Lote Tuqiri (Wests Tigers) and another ex-Vodafone Warrior Joe Galuvao (Sea Eagles).


Rapira's outstanding efforts have come at a time when he has again been forced to cope with adversity. Once again he has had an NRL campaign ended by injury. He is one of three players sidelined for most of the season after knee surgery yet, despite the setback, he has fully immersed himself in a wide range of community activities. A focal polint has been his work as ambassador for the club's Breakfast Warriors initiative, which raises awareness of the importance of breakfast and good nutrition among young people.


I get so much satisfaction out of giving back to the community and trying to help people in whatever way I can, said Rapira.


While it has been a tough year for me personally, having my season ended by injury, Ive really enjoyed getting heavily involved in the community in all sorts of ways especially during the week we spent in Wellington going to schools for our Breakfast Warriors programme.


You can see what a difference we make to peoples lives. Thats what is so great about it.


The seventh annual NRL One Community Awards will be held on Monday, September 30, at Sydneys Town Hall and is set to be an inspiring evening of celebration for the contributions made by NRLs unsung heroes including volunteers, grassroots clubs, teachers, students, and NRL players.


Every year Im blown away by the tireless contributions made by those in the grassroots Rugby League community, said NRL Interim Community, Culture and Diversity General Manager Mark deWeerd.


The game would not be at the level it is today without their support, dedication and commitment.


Since 1988 the Ken Stephen Medal has honoured the likes of ARL Commissioner, Wayne Pearce, Andrew Ettingshausen, Mark Coyne, Peter Sterling, Hazem El Masri, Nathan Hindmarsh, Andrew Ryan, Sam Thaiday and last years winner, Johnathan Thurston, for their contributions to the game and the community.


The One Community Awards has a prize pool of over $50,000 across eight award categories including the Holden National Volunteer of the Year, Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Awards (Professional and Volunteer), Telstra One Community Grassroots Club of the Year, AAMI Service to Refereeing, AAMI Service to the Community Award, National Teacher of the Year (Primary and Secondary School) and the Young Indigenous Learn Earn Legend! Award.


The finalists for these awards will be announced soon.


The public will have a chance to vote for the winner of the Ken Stephen Medal, with the public winner earning one vote for the final judging stage. Voting for the Ken Stephen Medal will open at the end of the month.


Follow the NRL One Community Twitter feed @rlonecommunity and the official NRL Twitter feed @NRL, and like the NRL One Community Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the latest information.


The finalists for the 2013 Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra are:


Scott Prince (Broncos)

Michael Ennis (Bulldogs)

Terry Campese (Raiders)

Brent Tate (Cowboys)

Ben Creagh (Dragons)

Tim Mannah (Eels)

Kurt Gidley (Knights)

Joe Galuvao (Sea Eagles)

Clint Newton (Panthers)

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters)

Ben Ross (Sharks)

Billy Slater (Storm)

Nate Myles (Titans)

Steve Rapira (Vodafone Warriors)

Lote Tuqiri (Tigers)


NB: The Rabbitohs have elected not to nominate one individual player for this award.


Telstra will give $5,000 to the winner and $5,000 to their favourite charity.