For today’s rugby league stars, life isn’t just being able to perform on the field.
In an ever-evolving media landscape, it’s vital they are assisted with media skills to represent themselves well.
That’s why another group of Newcastle Knights has recently completed a media training course at Hunter TAFE.
It is the second year the Club has had players involved in this training; Tyrone Roberts, Alex McKinnon and Dane Gagai were among the players who participated last year.
Knights Under 20s players Sione Mata’utia, Danny Levi and Jake Mamo, NRL’s Robbie Rochow and Knights apprentice mentor Anthony Quinn completed this year's course, which aims to build media skills and confidence.
This week, the training culminated in a final assessment that saw the students interviewed by industry professionals Mitchell Hughes from NBN and radio personality Marc Glanville, and critiqued by Danny Buderus, the NRL's Andrew Ryan and media representatives from Hunter TAFE and the Club.
Career and professional development consultant, Emily Figueroa who taught the foundation media skills course at Hunter TAFE, explained there is a significant benefit to NRL players possessing strong media skills.
“The boys have been learning all about how to use their key messages, the dos and don’ts of social media and understanding how to deal with controversial situations," she said.
“It’s basically teaching them the foundations of media skills.”
Ex-Knight and now sideline eye for KOFM, Marc Glanville praised the players for taking the initiative to undergo the career-advancing course.
“I think they were fantastic, I wish a course like this was available when I was playing football,” he said.
“Myself and Michael Hagen went and did a Toast Masters course which helped us, but I think this is fantastic for the footballers.
“The more players we can get that are able to speak with the media and speak well, I think it’s great and paints rugby league in a better picture."
Ex-player and NRL welfare officer Andrew Ryan also commended the students’ progress, and as one of the assignment assessors, hailed the interviews as the best he’s seen.
“I thought they were outstanding," he said.
“I was lucky enough to come up last year and see a lot of the guys come through and see them grow throughout those 12 months.
“The new batch of these young guys are outstanding and for their age, they were some of the best interviews I’ve ever seen.
“They were really calm and have obviously been working really hard at it too.
“I’m looking forward to watching them get interviewed for many years.”
Emerging hooker Danny Levi has already spent time in front of the camera speaking about his team’s success in the 2014 NYC competition.
“I feel a lot more relaxed now when I go to do an interview and am not so nervous," Levi explains.
“I know what to say, so am pretty confident in front of the camera.”
Figueroa said the players had made great improvement and learnt that preparation is key.
“They understand that they can make a real difference in how they present simply by practicing and preparing beforehand,” she added.
Glanville and Ryan both believe the course is valuable for the players long-term.
“It can be daunting when you’re speaking with all forms of media and I think they were terrific,” Glanville added.
“As they get older with more experience in handling the media, I think they’ll be terrific."
Ryan added, "It’s so important that they get some confidence in this environment and are able to practice here before they potentially go out and have to do it under pressure.
“Hopefully these guys will be around the NRL for a long time and to be putting these steps now it’s really going to set them up for the rest of their careers.”