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Long-serving former Vodafone Warriors centre Jerome Ropati has been announced as the first New Zealander to be appointed as an NRL Community ambassador.

After a stellar NRL playing career spanning 12 seasons, Ropati has joined the ranks of fellow rugby league legends such as Nathan Hindmarsh, Andrew Ryan and Alan Tongue in the NRL Community team.

“Jerome’s appointment will further extend the reach of our community programme in New Zealand, complementing the great work already done by the Warriors,” said Adam Check, NRL Head of Community.

“Jerome had a fantastic career, playing 145 NRL games and 11 tests, including winning the 2008 Rugby League World Cup with the Kiwis. His achievements on the field were surpassed only by his exceptional commitment to the community.

“He has a genuine enthusiasm for making positive change and we’re delighted to welcome him to the NRL Community fold.”

Ropati’s first task as an official ambassador will be to visit schools during the 15th annual Community Carnival, which was officially launched today. A month long activity, the event will see players from every club visit local and regional communities throughout Australia and New Zealand.

“I’m honoured to represent my country as the first-ever New Zealander to join the NRL Community team,” said Ropati.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to see the positive impact rugby league can have on key community issues. I’m excited to get stuck into the role and the Community Carnival is the perfect place to start.”

Over the four weeks of the Community Carnival (February 2 through to February 27), NRL players are expected to reach a staggering 250,000 kids across 300 towns and 900 schools and deliver 80 Junior League clinics.

The community message of this year’s event is wellbeing, focussing on everything from nutrition and healthy eating, to regular exercise and mental health.

About the Wellbeing Programme

Rugby league’s new Wellbeing programme aims to harness the NRL’s popularity to empower and educate students to value wellbeing in their own lives. Providing a holistic view of health, each of the seven comprehensive lessons establishes strong links between nutrition, physical activity and mental health to overall wellbeing.

Designed to meet the Content Descriptions of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and the New Zealand Curriculum Objectives for students in Years 3 and 4, some parts of this resource could also be adapted for students in Years 5 and 6.

The NRL Wellbeing resource features literacy and numeracy tasks as well as critical thinking activities and a practical component. It can be used by teachers as individual lessons or as a complete unit of work.

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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