Agnatius Paasi counts his blessings every day that he's fortunate enough to be playing in the NRL.

Devoid of any ego, the Warriors prop quietly uses his standing as a footballer to lend a hand to those in need whenever possible.

And while he isn't one to openly talk up his own achievements, the club has been inspired by the softly spoken Ken Stephen Medal finalist's selfless deeds.

"I've been very fortunate to spend lots of time with Iggy this year. He's taken a lot of time out of his schedule to give back this season," Warriors NRLW captain and community coordinator Georgia Hale told NRL.com.

"Whether we're at a school visit or giving up an evening down at the local soup kitchen, whatever it is, Iggy's given up a lot of time."

From feeding the homeless in Auckland to running school football clinics, presenting mental health programs at junior clubs or assisting kids living in low socio-economic areas, Paasi does it all because he genuinely cares.

A doting father of four boys, Paasi has a particular interest in helping children and has already completed a youth aid certificate.

He understands what it's like to do it tough, having painstakingly left his partner and first-born son in Auckland in 2015 to have one last shot at an NRL career with the Gold Coast Titans.

The sacrifice was worth it as he cemented a first-grade spot despite arriving with no car, no accommodation of his own and no guarantees.

Agnatius Paasi pays his respects at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch after the terrorist attack in March.
Agnatius Paasi pays his respects at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch after the terrorist attack in March. ©NRL Photos

"I like to get out there and just give back to the community. I see some of their struggles and it's just good to give back and see the smiles on their faces. It lifts you up as well," Paasi said.

"Hopefully they can kick on forward and see what I've been through and [I can] help them build their confidence."

Paasi shaved his trademark locks in August to raise money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer (LBC) New Zealand in memory of his late aunty Ponisitia Paasi, a former Black Fern and Wellington rugby player.

"She had breast cancer a while back and she passed away last year," Paasi said.

"She played professional sport and she also helped others - she was a social worker. Seeing her pass away was pretty hard and pretty tough."

Hale has regularly seen how Paasi interacts with people from all walks of life and said he thoroughly deserves to be up for the Ken Stephen Medal. 

"It shows the type of person he is and how far he's really taken opportunities in the community to give back and to be a good role model for younger people," Hale said.

"All the work we've seen is amazing but I know there's also a lot of work that Iggy's done that we haven't seen and that sums up the kind of person he is."

Paasi's family are immensely proud of him for his achievements on and off the field but are hopeful he'll be chosen as this year's winner of the prestigious award.

"If he wins it, it will be an amazing thing," said the forward's sister, Elizabeth Paasi.

"It shows how much love and respect he has for our community and for any cause."

 

The 2019 Ken Stephen Medal is proudly supported by wealth, property and well-being consultancy, One Solutions.