Vodafone Junior Warriors utility Eiden Ackland has his work cut out balancing his passion for football with his university studies.
The 19-year-old was last night named in the NYC Academic Team of the Year at the Rugby League Players’ Association annual awards in Sydney. It follows him winning the Education Ambassador honour at the Vodafone Warriors' NYC awards last week.
His latest accolade was deserved recognition for his off-field exploits as he continues his second year of a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts conjoint degree at the University of Auckland.
The son of former Vodafone Warriors assistant NRL coach and NYC head coach John Ackland can trace his family’s connection with the club to before he was born. Indeed, John was coaching the Auckland Warriors’ under-19 side in 1997.
Eiden has an intimate understanding of the NYC having had close contact with Vodafone Junior Warriors teams during his father’s successful reign as head coach between 2010-2013. The club appeared in three grand finals winning in 2010 and 2011 and the players would gather at the Ackland home to celebrate.
Eiden along with friend – and now Penrith star – Nathan Cleary played in the same Mount Albert Lions restricted weight teams in the local Auckland competition not too many years ago.
Eiden is an example of how a lighter player can aspire to perform and excel at a high level within the NRL environment. He also epitomises all that the NYC encourages by blazing his own path at law school while balancing the physical and mental rigours of his football career.
He has made 27 NYC appearances and scored six tries for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the last two seasons while being used in the halves and also at hooker.