Rugby league legend Petero Civoniceva spent time at the Ipswich touch grounds helping young school kids with drills and skills on Wednesday. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Rugby league legend Petero Civoniceva spent time at the Ipswich touch grounds helping young school kids with drills and skills on Wednesday. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

Footy stars tackle wellbeing in classrooms and fields

NRL greats will go back to school to teach South Burnett's up-and-coming league stars the importance of wellbeing.

To tackle the pressing issue, NRL game development officer for the South Burnett Colin Huxtable enlisted the help of veteran players to pass on the message of wellbeing in the sport.

The NRL ambassador team is made up of former Broncos forward Petero Civoniceva, South Sydney's Nathan Merritt, Cowboys' Brent Tate and South Queensland's Mario Fenech.

Huxtable said the South Burnett scored the educational clinics as a result of the rotation system the NRL uses to cover regional areas.

"We obviously don't have easy access to any NRL teams like in the city," Huxtable said.

Civoniceva, Merritt, Tate and Fenech will travel around most of the South Burnett's schools today and tomorrow.

"We're going to run education clinics on hydration, sleep and belonging as a part of a team and group," Huxtable said.

"It's purely educational."

Outside of school hours, the group of former players will continue to teach lessons of wellbeing at all five of the South Burnett league clubs.

Tonight they will head to the Nanango Stags and Kingaroy Red Ants' grounds from 5-6pm.

Tomorrow night they will head to the Wondai Wolves, Murgon Mustangs and Cherbourg Hornets training sessions from 5-6pm.

Huxtable said these clinics would be more educational than skill training as a result of short staff numbers.

"Due to the lack of staff we are unable to run a coaching clinic," he said.

"But we'll have a meet and greet and then a game of touch.

"It's not so much about football, it's more about the NRL's message this year of wellbeing."

Player facts

Petero Civoniceva

  • The prop forward started his career in 1998 with the Brisbane Broncos.
  • After nine-years he moved to the Penrith Panthers, where he played for three-years before moving back to the Broncos.
  • Civoniceva won the Australian Fijian league player of the year.

Nathan Merritt

  • The New South Welshman started in 2002 with South Sydney.
  • Merritt switched to the Cronulla Sharks in 2004 to play a season.
  • In 2006 the fullback moved back to the Sharks until he retired from playing in the NRL back at South Sydney.

Brent Tate

  • Centre Tate started with the Brisbane Broncos in 2001.
  • He switched to the New Zealand Warriors in 2008 to play two seasons.
  • In 2011-14 Tate rounded up his NRL playing days with the North Queensland Cowboys.

Mario Fenech

  • Fenech started with South Sydney in 1981.
  • The hooker played for the Souths before making the move to North Sydney in 1991-94.
  • He finished his career on the league field with South Queensland in 1995.
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