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Some of the biggest names in Rugby League have accepted roles as NRL Community Ambassadors in 2016, helping improve the lives of many Australians via numerous community programs.

A record 40 current and former Rugby League stars have accepted positions to be part of NRL community programs, with 15 new additions to the team, including six female ambassadors.

Ambassadors include Darren Lockyer, Alex McKinnon, Stephanie Hancock, Petero Civoniceva, Tallisha Harden and Justin Hodges.

In 2015, NRL Community Ambassadors reached more than 130,000 school students across 400 regions.  

Additionally, ambassadors spent more than 2,000 hours working amongst communities right across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, helping to improve lives.

NRL Chief Operating Officer, Suzanne Young, said the NRL's community programs were integral to the game and ultimate future success.

"Rugby League is much more than just a game.  We have a big voice and a big responsibility within our communities, to live up to our mission to bring people together and enrich their lives," Ms Young said.

"Whether our ambassadors are supporting townships to break down the stigma of mental health, mentoring young Indigenous students to make an easier transition from school to work, or standing up and speaking out about violence against women…we all have a responsibility to help build inclusiveness and positive social impact amongst communities."

The NRL undertakes numerous community programs throughout the year, aligned to key pillars: Health; Respect; and Learn.

Programs are supported by expert partners, who enable and guide decisions aimed at providing positive experiences and outcomes.

NRL Community Ambassador, Petero Civoniceva, said he was honoured to be part of giving back to the sport that has been a major part of his life.

"Our fans love our game for all the on-field competitiveness, but it is the work that many do off-field, supporting one another, that makes a real difference," Mr Civoniceva said.

"We have a great mix of ambassadors for 2016 and I am looking forward to being a part of the ambassador group and helping to make a positive difference in supporting schools, clubs and communities throughout Australia and abroad." 

The NRL also released its first Social Impact Report, conducted from select 2015 community programs.  

The report is one of the first amongst sporting codes in Australia and measures work undertaken in the community to effectively articulate the social, economic and environmental value that the game's community programs contribute.

A copy of the report and further information on NRL community programs reviewed can be found here.

2016 NRL Community Ambassadors

Adam MacDougall John Skandalis
Alan Tongue Josh Perry
Alex McKinnon  Justin Hodges
Anthony Minichiello  Luke Bailey
Ben Ross  Mario Fenech
Ben Smith  Matt Cooper
Brent Tate  Matt King
Brett Kimmorley  Matt Bowen
Bronson Harrison Nathan Hindmarsh
Dallas Johnson  Nathan Merritt
Dan Hunt  Petero Civoniceva
Danny Buderus  Renae Kunst
Darren Lockyer  Roy Asotasi
David Simmons  Ruan Sims
David Peachey  Samantha Hammond
George Rose Shaun Timmins
Georgia Hale  Stephanie Hancock
Jason King Tallisha Harden
Jerome Ropati Tom Learoyd-Lars
Joe Galuvao Wendell Sailor

2015 Community Statistics

- Ambassadors and players spent more than 35,000 hours outside of football commitments working amongst local communities 
- 255,392 school children were engaged during the community carnival (February) on the values of wellbeing and living active and healthy lifestyles
- 41 cultural groups were engaged in various community programs
- 3,500 school children in Papua New Guinea were provided with community education resources
- 350 face-to-face hours were delivered for the NRL In League In Harmony program (building cohesive communities through values and respectful behaviours)
- 98% transition rate of students into employment and further education via the NRL School 2 Work program for Indigenous students
- 3.4 million people directly reached through the NRL State of Mind program, helping break down mental health stigma
- Ambassadors visited more than 130,000 children (outside of community carnival in February) across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, delivering community programs

NRL Community Pillars and Key Programs

NRL Health: State of Mind, NRL Wellbeing, Community Carnival
NRL Respect: Voice Against Violence, Tackle Bullying, Women In League Round, Indigenous Engagement Strategy, In League In Harmony  
NRL Learn: Dream Believe Achieve, Rugby League Reads, School to Work, NRL Learning Centre

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.