Rugby league fans in Dubbo and the surrounding area will get the chance to get up close and personal with some of the game’s best players this week.
After stopping in at Dunedoo and Coolah on Wednesday, Jillaroos stars Talesha Quinn, Ruan Sims and Simaima Taufa will be joined by the St George Illawarra Dragons’ Euan Aitken and Tim Grant of the Penrith Panthers at an NRL State of Mind event at the Wellington Soldiers Club on Thursday evening.
It will cap off a bumper day in Wellington after Grant, Aitken, and Quinn will run a junior clinic at Kennard Park that afternoon.
The next day Dubbo gets the NRL treatment with Aitken and Quinn taking part in a school visit at Dubbo South Primary on Friday morning.
The visit is part of the NRL’s annual ‘Road to Regions’ tour, providing an opportunity for townships across Australia to meet some of the stars of the NRL before the season commences.
The State of Mind grassroots program is a key part of the tour, with more than 95 junior rugby league clubs having taken part in the program last year alone.
The program has been developed alongside expert health partners in the mental wellbeing space and is designed to increase mental health literacy and reduce the stigma around mental illness.
The visit to the western area is supported by the state government, and Deputy Premier John Barilaro is one of many who has praised the tour.
“We love seeing our footy stars in country New South Wales, growing the game and working with our junior rugby league kids and communities,” he said.
“With 99 per cent of the state still in drought and many of our communities doing it tough, there isn’t a better time for NRL players to hold workshops and events in regional and rural areas.
“The Road to Regions tour kicks off a massive year for the NRL in regional NSW, giving communities even more opportunity to get up close to their favourite footy teams.”
Quinn will be one of the main attractions during the tour, the Parkes product remaining a proud supporter of bush footy.
Aitken will be another popular member of the tour party, having represented NSW Country in the past and developing into one of the standout players for the Dragons in recent seasons.
The action starts on Wednesday, with Grant visiting Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Coolah while Aitken and Quinn will delight youngsters at Dunedoo Central School.