NRL 2020: Bennelong Cup, School to Work program, Indigenous students enjoy networking day


NRL School to Work program students have enjoyed a special networking experience, playing touch footy with potential employers and rugby league legends.

More than 30 Indigenous graduates of the School to Work and Souths Cares Nanga Mai Marri programs participated in the third annual Bennelong Cup at Randwick Barracks last Friday.

Fourteen teams took part, amounting to around 170 players including retired NRL greats Preston Campbell, Willie Mason, Greg Inglis, Cliff Lyons and Geoff Toovey.

As well as having fun tossing the Steeden around, program graduates got their foot in the door with businesses like BGIS, Hutchinson Builders, Bennelong Energy Services and Evolve FM.

Following the tournament a luncheon was held at Souths Juniors with 280 attendees. Manly coach Des Hasler was the keynote speaker and multiple new apprenticeships and traineeships were offered.

Former Indigenous stars create connections for the next generation

“A lot of young people can grow up feeling like they don’t have too many options or opportunities around them,” Campbell, who designed each team’s playing shirt, told

“We have to let them know there are many options out there. There are some of us that are happy to do something because we want to live, and there are those that get into something they enjoy, they’re good at, they get paid to do, and they’re really, really happy. That’s what we want for these kids.”

Over 450 School to Work students completed the HSC last year, making for a very impressive 96 percent achievement rate.

And while that was worthy of celebration, School to Work project officer Jason Solomon said the program’s job is only half done.

Former NRL great Willie Mason at the School to Work day.

Former NRL great Willie Mason at the School to Work day.
©NRL Photos

“The hard bit is transitioning them into full-time employment or further education,” said Solomon, who works with the Roosters.

“The employers [at the Bennelong Cup] are telling them…

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