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Australia Day Honours for two NSWRL local stalwarts

The NSW Rugby League would like to congratulate Canberra and Newcastle Rugby League stalwarts, Mark Vergano OAM and John Thomas OAM, on receiving Australia Day honours.

General Manager, Canberra Region and Community Rugby League, Vergano OAM was recognised for service to sport as an administrator; while Knights training and game day logistics assistant Thomas, was acknowledged for service to rugby league.

Vergano OAM and Thomas OAM, who are both highly regarded in the wider Rugby League community, were among 545 OAM recipients included in the 735 total recipients of the 2022 awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Vergano OAM has been working in his current role with Canberra Region and Community Rugby League since 2015, and prior to that was CEO of Cricket ACT for 14 years. He is currently the President of the Australian National University Cricket Club and a former board director of Netball ACT and ACTSPORT.

Vergano OAM said: “It is certainly an honour and privilege and I am very humbled. I am so fortunate to work with so many great people.”

Canberra Rugby League Chair Gary Green said: “The honour is just reward for Mark. He has dedicated 30 years as a volunteer and administrator and is highly regarded as an astute administrator across various ACT sports including Rugby League, cricket and netball.”

Thomas OAM, from Eleebana, Lake Macquarie, has been involved with the game for more than 50 years, the past 29 in an official capacity with the Newcastle Knights NRL squad.

Knights Football Manager and club and Blues legend Danny Buderus describes Thomas OAM, who is the first to arrive and last to leave every training session and game day, as “the GOAT”. He was awarded Life Membership in 2010 and Clubman of the Year in 2018.

Prior to starting work with the Knights First grade side in early 2000, Thomas OAM began his connection with club in 1991 as team manager of the Knights Harold Matthews squad, followed by  stints with Newcastle’s SG Ball team and other representative teams including NSW Under 19s and the Junior Kangaroos.

Thomas OAM is a former Valentine-Eleebana Club secretary for 10 years and Newcastle schoolboys treasurer for 25 years.