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For some kids, it's hard to find the motivation and the want to go to school.

That's what it was like for 17-year-old rising Rugby League star, Caitlan Johnston.

Caitlan was disengaged with her studies and would often leave school early and not attend classes.

But lucky for her, Rugby League has helped her realise how important her education actually is.

A talented league player, Caitlan joined the NRL's School to Work Program in an attempt to become more involved with her education.

"The intensity is at an all-time high."

The School to Work Program is an education and employment program, created by the NRL and funded by the government, that uses Rugby League to help support and encourage young Indigenous Australians to stay in school and get jobs.

Since joining the program, Caitlan's teachers have seen a real change in her.

Caitlan is currently doing work experience at the nib Newcastle Knights each week, visiting schools and doing community-based work.

The work experience has been an eye-opener for Caitlan, who is now interested in getting involved with community work once she finishes school.


"I was going off track a bit at school," Caitlan said.

"It's really helping with my learning. I never went to school so I never really learnt much and now I just go to school."

"I used to think that if I don't go to school, footy will just take me on a pathway.

"Then the Knights had a talk to my Aboriginal worker at school and they said to me 'well football isn't going to get you anywhere, it's not going to get you a job'."


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Caitlan is an exciting Rugby League prospect and has just been selected to represent the Indigenous All-Stars in February when they play the New Zealand Maori All-Stars.

She'll be the youngest player on the field when the two sides clash, an honour which she'll cherish forever.

"It's a big achievement," Caitlan added.

"Playing alongside Bec Young and Emma (Young), it's good.

"I've always wanted to play up in the big leagues."

She's part of the Knights Tarsha Gale squad who finished runners-up in the 2018 grand final, losing to the Sharks.

But for Caitlan, she has bigger dreams.

"I play with the Tarsha Gale squad, doing a bit of pre-season with them every Tuesdays and Thursdays," she explained.

"But hopefully I'll play for the Jillaroos one day."