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Largest community recruitment drive unveiled

The largest community rugby league recruitment drive in the game's history has been launched.

NRL players, coaches, officials and administrators are urging people to get involved with their local clubs in the hope of sharing the workload among those who keep the game going.

Community rugby league will resume in July for the majority of participants after having placed on indefinite hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign aims at bolstering the volunteer recruitment numbers in 2020 and beyond with tasks including setting up the fields and cooking the BBQ, to undertaking new tasks that are required to meet and maintain a socially-safe environment.

A video has also been released to remind parents and participants of the tasks that need to be done.

Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the more people that can assist, the safer and better for all.

Junior players at the Doonside Roos.
Junior players at the Doonside Roos. ©NRL Photos

Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo has asked for volunteers, the lifeblood of the game, to bring back the community spirit in returning to play this year.

“Volunteers are the heart and soul of community rugby league and there’s never been a more important time to volunteer than 2020,” he said.

“We acknowledge the role of Rugby League volunteers in providing a safe and organised environment for players, coaches and referees. This year will be even more challenging and important, so we are asking for everyone to lend a hand and support your local club.

“We need volunteers for a range of responsibilities including setting up fields, running the canteen and importantly implementing the return to play guidelines.

“Please register today at PlayRugbyLeague.com to make a real difference in our community Rugby League clubs.”

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One of the clubs readying themselves for the return of community rugby league is the Doonside Roos.

Roos secretary Rob McKinlay said his club – situated in the Penrith district of New South Wales – had already recruited and accredited 41 volunteers as COVID officers.

"Not once did we consider not playing. It was 100 per cent, full steam ahead from the committee and we've actually seen some growth during COVID.  We are at 36 teams now and we had 27 last year," he said.

"All 33 coaches were at our COVID training and the overwhelming response was, 'whatever it takes' to get on the field. It's been wonderful.

"It really has been a team effort from everyone. I even recruited my sister Robyn who's taken on the volunteer COVID role at the club and she had nothing to do with or interest in rugby league before, but just wanted to help."

Coaches, officials and players who have taken part in the campaign include Brad Fittler, Kevin Walters, Mal Meninga, Josh McGuire, Kezie Apps, Jordan Mclean, Meg Ward, Andrew Abdo, Rob Moore and David Trodden.