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Ryan Hoffman thanks the fans. Vodafone Warriors v St George Dragons, NRL Rugby League. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday 1 May 2016. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /

Vodafone Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman has been named in the NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year for the third time.

Hoffman (32), who’s set to join the NRL’s 300-game club next season, is currently completing his Bachelor of Business degree.

Two former Vodafone Warriors – Jeremy Latimore (Penrith) and Russell Packer (St George Illawarra) – are also in the academic line-up.

Retired Vodafone Warrior Ben Henry received the Pasifika Award for Leadership and Excellence. Along with Sam Tagataese, Dane Gagai and Ray Thompson, he has won a trip to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to attend lectures, share stories and celebrate their achievements on an international scale.

Henry, who has been forced into early retirement at the age of just 24 due to multiple recurring injuries, was delighted at winning an award as well as the trip to UCLA.

“I’m very honoured and humbled to receive this award. I’ve had a tough year, but I guess there’s a light at the end of every tunnel and this is it for me,” he said.

“It’s going to be an enjoyable experience. I’ve talked to Jerome Ropati and he enjoyed his time over there, so I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Senior NRL wellbeing and education manager Paul Heptonstall expressed his delight at seeing so many players now enrolled in university or certificate programmes.

“The most pleasing aspect of this increased educational engagement is that the very best players in the game are showing that it is possible to combine a professional athletic career with other vocational pursuits,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful achievement really and testament to the players continued commitment to balancing their life off the field.

“They are the ideal example for the next generation of professional athletes to follow; that there is much more to life than football.”

NRL-RLPA programme highlights in 2016:

  • 800 of the 1000 NRL and NYC players are currently engaged in further education or workplace training
  • 21% of NRL and NYC players enrolled in a university degree at the start of the 2016 season
  • 40% of NRL and NYC attempted a certificate to diploma programme with about 15 per cent of these doing a formal trade apprenticeship
  • Currently 18 academic institutions deliver the NRL's Graduates of League programme; the completion rate of all players attempting university courses has continued to increase with 85% of all subjects attempted being passed
  • There have been $600k in education grants provided by the RLPA to over 400 different players’ education
  • NRL clubs have provided their players with an additional $2.4 million in educational incentives to engage in vocational pursuits away from football
  • 16 of the 36 players to play in this year’s under-20s Queensland or New South Wales State of Origin teams were studying at university with the balance doing apprenticeships, trades or vocational experience.



Roosters | Ian Henderson | Completed a Diploma of Financial Planning, KAPLAN

Titans | Ryan James | Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Griffith University

Panthers | Jeremy Latimore       | Completed a Bachelor of Business, University of Wollongong

Tigers | James Tedesco | Currently completing a Bachelor Health and Exercise Science, ACU

Vodafone Warriors | Ryan Hoffman     | Currently completing a Bachelor of Business, Open Universities

Broncos | Adam Blair | Currently completing a Bachelor of Social Science | ACU Brisbane

Rabbitohs | Michael Oldfield | Currently completing a Bachelor of Commerce, Macquarie University

Titans | Daniel Mortimer | Completed a Bachelor of Education (Physical and Health Education), Australian College of Physical Education

Bulldogs | Josh Jackson | Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science, University of Newcastle

Sea Eagles | Jake Trjbojevic | Completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Management, University Technology Sydney

Dragons | Russell Packer | Currently completing a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting & Finance), University of Wollongong

Eels | Daniel Alvaro | Currently completing a Bachelor of Business and Construction Management. University of Technology Sydney

Raiders | Kurt Baptiste | Currently completing a Bachelor of Engineering, Queensland University of Technology



Storm | Ben Nakubuwai | Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University

Tigers | Jacob Liddle | Currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering, Macquarie University

Roosters | Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck | Currently studying a Filmakers Intensive and completed a Cert IV in Graphic Design, Australian Film Television and Radio School

Sharks | Jayden Brailey | Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science, Australian Catholic University

Rabbitohs | Angus Crichton | Currently studying a Bachelor of Arts Media and Communications, University of Sydney

Titans | Sam Swift | Currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism, Griffith University

Panthers | Nathan Cleary | Currently completing a Bachelor of Arts Pathway to Secondary Teaching, University of Western Sydney

Dragons | Jack Payne | Currently studying a Bachelor of Physical Health and Education, University of Wollongong

Knights | Jack Cogger | Currently completing a Bachelor of Social Science, University of Newcastle

Eels | Jack Morris | Currently completing a Bachelor of Physical Activity and Health Science, Australian Catholic University

Raiders | Jack Hickson | Currently completing a Bachelor of Law and Business Administration, Australian National University

Broncos | Max Elliott | Currently completing a Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University

Cowboys | Ross Bella | Third Year Apprentice Electrician, Tafe Queensland



Sam Tagataese | Sharks

Ben Henry | Vodafone Warriors



Dane Gagai | Knights

Ray Thompson | North Queensland Cowboys

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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