There was a Wellington Cowboys home game during the 2019 Group 11 season where South Sydney Rabbitohs player Braidon Burns was walking around Kennard Park, chatting to fans and helping out in a club fundraiser.
The Coonamble Bears junior was swamped by supporters young and old but took the time to speak with them all or jump in for a selfie.
"Every time I've come home I've had support from everyone around here so to walk around it makes me feel good to know that I'm giving back and people want to have a chat," Burns said at the time.
"If I can put a smile on people's faces then it makes it all worth it."
But Burns was doing much more than putting a smile on faces.
As well as being a proud bush footy product, Burns was in Wellington through his involvement with Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS).
He's one of a number of NRL stars - most notably fellow Rabbitohs and WACHS ambassador Cody Walker - who has made regular trips out west to help WACHS promote their message and try and create change in the local community.
That's been a major focus this week in the lead-up to Sunday's NRL match at Apex Oval as WACHS is the Rabbitohs' official partner for the game and they've teamed up - through the club's Souths Cares group - to reach school students and speak about healthy living.
"These partnerships are good because they bring role models and idols to kids and families out into the bush where they can see and meet and greet but there's a bigger picture from our point of view," WACHS chief executive Darren Ah See said.
"We've got to make sure our kids understand how they can better prepare themselves when they're moving into adulthood and what they need to consider as part of their health and wellbeing.
"You wouldn't find two more down to earth blokes than Braidon and Cody. They love what they do and are committed to it and it shows in how they behave and present themselves in these communities.
"It makes our job a lot easier to get people like that because we know they're going to give 150 per cent commitment and they're wanting to be there and wanting to help.
"It's a no-brainer as far as we're concerned to be involved with people like that."
The way Ah See talks about Burns and Walker is almost identical to the way those involved with the St John's and CYMS clubs in Dubbo talk about former local juniors Isaah Yeo and Matt Burton.
The pair will run out on Sunday with the Penrith Panthers, another club which has helped create a strong footprint in the region.
The Panthers formed a partnership with the Western Rams in 2017 and established academies in Dubbo, Forbes and Bathurst to provide youngsters from all over the region with a genuine pathway towards the NRL.
The focus wasn't just on securing future NRL talent from the region, but they put an emphasis on training coaches, upgrading gym facilities, and running welfare sessions with teenagers from around the western area.
Other clubs are doing it but they are the benchmark with their country development and their support of the western corridor.Andy Haycock on Penrith
Yeo and Burton have returned home as part of the partnership to help run sessions with juniors from around the region.
"They have a connection that's multi-layered," Andy Haycock, someone who's driven the Dubbo part of the program and has been instrumental for the local academy, said.
"It's the t-shirts the kid gets, the training drills, the presence they have when they visit, it's their help with the academy stuff. It makes being a volunteer worthwhile because you know there's a club there that respects what we do out here.
"Other clubs are doing it but they are the benchmark with their country development and their support of the western corridor from Lithgow all the way out to Bourke ... it's very worthwhile."
In the last two weeks alone Penrith has run two Panthers Cubs clinics in Dubbo.
Several high-level coaches and staff from the Panthers, led by the club's academy program manager Sam Jones, have been a part of the program which targets much more than players' abilities.
Roughly 50 teenage kids took part in the sessions before being given a Panthers Cubs t-shirt and getting tasked with going back to their own juniors clubs to become a role model and share what they've learnt.
"It's been a gradual improvement," Haycock said of the Penrith-Western partnership.
"Their coaches are better because of the Penrith's contribution, the players are more skilled, and if they're lucky enough to go to Sydney they're more ready."
"Hats off to the Panthers because it's been a physical, financial and social connection cost to them but they're happy to do it."
The players and clubs being happy to partner up with the region goes back to what Ah See said.
The partnerships are worthwhile because of that and the presence of the rugby league players gives more publicity and allows the western area or WACHS' many programs more attention.
Wellington has battled many social and health issues which have gained national - and sometimes exaggerated - attention but Ah See has seen the changes and improvement which has occurred in his community.
Part of that comes through the connection WACHS has made with rugby league, allowing it to reach a huge number of people in the town and wider region.
"We try and use any medium we can to promote the health and wellbeing of our community," Ah See added.
"Rugby league is a big part of that. We do a lot through the Cowboys on weekends, especially at home games, but the opportunity came up to partner with the Rabbitohs on a more broad and more detailed sponsor arrangement and we jumped at that."
"It's a great opportunity for the region but also South Sydney, particularly having a large representation of Aboriginal players as it works well for us being a Aboriginal community-controlled health service as well."
WACHS employees will be at Apex Oval on Sunday to promote the services available while also being a big part of the half-time entertainment.
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