About Us


For the past 2 years, NRL Community has been using our voice, in consultation with Australia’s leading health experts, to make a difference to a big issue that impacts our Game and our communities – mental illness.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.  In Australia, 1 in 2 people are affected by mental illness, and at the crisis end, suicide is the largest killer of individuals aged 15 – 44.  It’s Australia’s single biggest health issue and, as Australia’s biggest sporting community, we can and should play a pivotal role in improving the outcomes for those affected.

During last year's State of Origin, the NRL's state of Mind campaign launched in partnership with Lifeline, Kids Helpline, headspace and The Black Dog Institute. 

The aim of this program, which will be the constant driver of our work over the next two years, is to;

1. Use the Game's reach, profile, Clubs and players to reduce stigma around mental illness;

2. Stimulate help seeking behaviours by educating and informing our community with appropriate resources and literature;

3. Connect Rugby League communities with our expert partners; and

4. Develop elite players to be leaders in mental health advocacy within their Clubs and communities.

State of Mind Ambassadors

In 2015 the NRL set out to appoint the first game wide NRL State of Mind Ambassadors to represent the NRL playing group. The process began with a position description circulated to the NRL clubs which included previous participation through education or community work in areas such as youth work, community services and other related industries. The role is voluntary and players have self-nominated to be part of the program based on their desire to make a difference. 

The following players were selected as the game’s inaugural NRL State of Mind Ambassadors and will participate in training including a Mental Health First Aid Certificate.

With the knowledge and experience they gain as Ambassadors they will then be equipped to lead the increase of Mental Health literacy within their own teams and clubs.  Congratulations to all the players involved.

  • Boyd Cordner
  • Joel Thompson
  • Jeff Robson
  • John Palavi
  • Luke Kelly
  • Michael Morgan
  • Dene Halatau
  • Matt Ballin
  • Dale Finucane
  • Brenton Lawrence 
  • Josh Starling 
  • Darius Boyd
  • Sam Tagataese
  • Joseph Paulo
  • Tariq Sims 
  • Dane Gagai
  • Moses Mybe
  • David Tyrrell
  • David Shillington 
  • James Segeyaro
  • Suaia Matagi
  • Iosia Soliola 

Grassroots & Junior League Support      

In consultation with our partners, a 6 step recognition process will be implemented across our Grassroots Clubs.

The State of Mind Grassroots Program has been designed to be delivered initially to club administrators, coaches, managers and senior members of grassroots Rugby League Clubs across Australia and New Zealand.

The key outcomes of the State of Mind Grassroots program will be a constant driver in our work;

  • Reduce the stigma around mental ill health within the club and community
  • Increase mental health literacy across grassroots Rugby League clubs.
  • Stimulate help seeking behaviours of club members and community.
  • Each club will take ownership of mental health awareness at the workshop conclusion.

In 2016 we are targeting 40 NRL Grassroots Clubs to participate in the program to join us in supporting those affected by mental health.


NRL Welfare & Education Program

The goal of our Welfare & Education Program is to turn talented boys into men of character and integrity: men who are all the better for having been part of Rugby League.

Every element of the program is designed to help our players grow and develop their potential in every aspect of their lives.


"Our people are better for having been part of the Rugby League community"


Our goal is to create individuals who are:

  1. Proud of the game
  2. Balanced in life
  3. Dedicated to professional development and lifelong learning
  4. Good team members
  5. Self-aware and self-confident
  6. Respectful
  7. Wise and ethical decision makers

Mental & Wellbeing Challenges

The NRL Welfare and Education Program has intensified key triggers that may present risks to players mental wellbeing and offers support to manage these.

  1. Relocation - Is the player prepared for living away from home?
  2. Expectations - Does the player have realistic expectations of the commitment required, intensity of training and chance of moving up to the next level?
  3. Supported - Does the club have a strong support structure that allows a player to develop in all aspects of his life?
  4. Injuries - Does the player and club have strategies to manage a players injuries with regard to off field engagements?
  5. Behaviour - Is the player prepared, appreciative and capable of fulfilling the behavioural standards required in the elite Rugby League environment?
  6. Released - Has the player prepared himself for a vocation away from Rugby League?
  7. Retired - Does the player have a transition plan which will provide him with a purpose and identity away from being a professional player?

Mental Health Support

  1. All NRL clubs have a dedicated Welfare & Education Manager and a Careers Coach to support the players in the above challenges.
  2. All professional players, staff and their immediate families have access to: a free, private and confidential counselling service provided by Davidson Trahaire Corpsych.
  3. All clubs and governing bodies have mental health first aid qualified staff that have the knowledge in identifying, approaching and referring a person that may have mental health challenges.
  4. The RLPA and Player Agents have additional counselling services available to all professional players.    
  5. The NRL has a referral system to residential and group rehabilitation services throughout Australia.

Player Wellbeing

At the core of promoting player Wellbeing is the development of a player in all aspects of his life. A player that is more balanced and centered will have greater resilience in coping with stresses as they arise. This Wellbeing model includes:

  1. Physical wellness - Having sufficient energy, vitality, mobility and functional capacity to undertake all daily activities.
  2. Psychological wellness - Possessing the cognitive and emotional resources to express feelings and ability to adjust to life's challenges with general feelings of positive self-worth.
  3. Socially and community engaged - Possessing an interest and building relationship inside and outside of football.
  4. Culturally connected with their origins - Feeling a sense of cultural pride, and belonging to one's culture of origin beliefs, common customs and values.
  5. Vocationally engaged - Having a plan for personal career goals away from the playing field that will provide with purpose, income and fulfillment.
  6. Financially grounded - Possessing the economic understanding of satisfying their current and future financial needs.
  7. Spiritually nurtured - Having guiding beliefs, principals, values and behaviors that give meaning and purpose to one's life.