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Dibb singled out for top academic award

Warriors standoff Kirra Dibb has claimed the top women's honour in the NRL-RLPA  2020 academic awards.

Each year the two organisations celebrate the academic achievements by naming an academic team of the year and singling out the best male and female student. 

Former Sydney Roosters play maker Dibb, who debuted for the Warriors in this year's NRLW premiership, is completing a bachelor of applied science - exercise physiology at the University of Sydney.

Also named in the team of the year is new Vodafone Warriors centre Euan Aitken. The former St George Illawarra player Euan Aitken completed a certificate IV in fitness, is completing a bachelor of exercise science and also completed a cert IV in new small business (University of Wollongong).

Included in this year’s academic team of the year is Gold Coast winger Anthony Don, the first player in the full-time professional era to complete a master’s degree while still playing. There are six other current players undertaking a master’s programme.

Don was awarded the 2020 Academic Male of the Year honour.

"This year's academic team of the year will be remembered as one of the most disciplined and determined,’’ said NRL CEO Andrew Abdo. 

“Our squads have been in a biosecurity bubble all year but the commitment of these players to continue to further their studies during the pandemic is a remarkable achievement.  

“As a game we are very proud to have around 100 players who have completed or are completing tertiary degrees and a further 100 who are completing traditional trades. Rugby league is about teamwork, communication, discipline and focus. 

“We’ll continue to invest heavily in the wellbeing and education area to ensure our players are prepared for life after rugby league.”

RLPA chief executive Clint Newton said education should always be a priority for the game.

“We congratulate the academic achievements of these individuals, who are rightfully being celebrated for their continued engagement in career development, despite the many challenges season 2020 has placed before them,” said Newton.

“We need to continue supporting and championing players, investing in their future by prioritising education and professional development.” 

NRL wellbeing and education manager Paul Heptonstall said of 550 contracted players, 93 current NRL players have completed or are completing a university degree, while seven players are doing a masters degree, through 32 different universities. 

A further 106 players are completing traditional trades while a total of 610 VET qualifications have been achieved by all the Players. 

“We have 84 percent of players currently engaged in career development,” said Heptonstall.

“We have long believed, and it is backed up by research, that players who further their education are more likely to succeed on the field.

“It is also pleasing to see some of our most successful Clubs off the field are some of the most engaged clubs with their off-field development and education.

“An enormous amount of credit must be given to all the club career coaches who have worked tirelessly in helping the players achieve their goals.”

2020 NRL ACADEMIC TEAM OF THE YEAR

Rhys Kennedy (Completed Bachelor of Exercise Science and Cert III in fitness, University of Wollongong)

Connor Tracey (Completed a Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Services, currently completing a Post Grad Cert in - Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA Institute)

Anthony Don (Completed a Masters of Business Administration 2020 & Completed a Bachelor of Education 2011, University of New England)

Christian Welch (Completed a Bachelor of Commerce and currently completing a Masters of Business, University of New South Wales)

Jayden Brailey (Currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise sports Science, Australian Catholic University)

Jake Granville (Currently completing a Carpentry Apprenticeship and Diploma of Business Management & Hospitality)

Reed Mahoney (Completed Cert IV in Business, Education Support & III & IV Fitness and Diploma in Business, currently completing a Bachelor Sport Business, Australian College of Physical Education)

Adam Clune (Completed a Bachelor of Laws-Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) with distinction, University of Wollongong)

Euan Aitken (Completed a Cert IV in Fitness, currently completing a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Completed a Cert IV in New Small Business, University of Wollongong)

Nat Butcher (Completed Diploma in Business & Cert IV in Small Business Management, currently completing a Bachelor of Business Administration, Australian Catholic University)

Matt Ikuvalu (Completed Certificate III in fitness and Cert IV in Community & Recreation, currently completing a Bachelor of Teaching (Honours), University of Newcastle)

Alex Twal (Completed a Bachelor of Commerce (2020) & Cert III in Fitness, Australian Catholic University)

Kirra Dibb (Currently completing a Bachelor of Applied Science - Exercise Physiology, University of Sydney)