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Today the National Rugby League celebrated the naming of the 2013 NRL-RPLA Academic Team of the Year with the launch of a partnership with the University of Western Sydney.

This strategic partnership is expected to provide more NRL players with the opportunity to develop post-football careers with the Graduates of League, an extensive athlete education program in Australian sport.

The University of Western Sydney is the fifth university to become a part of the NRL Graduates of League Program, along with the University of Wollongong, James Cook University, Griffith University and ACPE.

University of Western Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Corporate Strategy and Services, Rhonda Hawkins was excited with this development;

The NRL is setting the benchmark for sporting codes in Australia in terms of their commitment to the ongoing education and development of their players beyond the sporting field she said.

The Graduates of League program aims to increase university entry of elite athletes along with retention and completion of their studies.

The selection process for the team is mainly based on a players performance along with commitment and progress in an educational program in preparation for a post-football career.

The team features players from every club in the NRL competition, varying from those studying sports science and financial planning to graphic design and carpentry.

This was a special occasion for the Pirtek Parramatta Eels, who were delighted to have club captain Tim Mannah named on the team.

Parramatta great Luke Burt, a member of the 2012 Academic Team, was present at the celebrations on campus to interview Tim. When asking how it felt to a part of the team, Mannah answered;

Its a real honour. The NRL does such a good job these days to create great pathways and opportunities for players to further their education.

Im grateful for the opportunities and for the staff we have at our club, he said.

Tim is currently studying a Bachelors of Sports Business degree with ACPE. He is expecting to graduate halfway through 2014.

The 2013 NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year:

Ben Henry - New Zealand Warriors

Tim Mannah - Parramatta Eels

Ray Thompson - North Queensland Cowboys

Ashley Harrison - Gold Coast Titans

Robbie Rochow - Newcastle Knights

David Williams - Manly Sea Eagles

David Stagg - Brisbane Broncos

Roy Asotasi - South Sydney Rabbitohs

Shaun Fensom - Canberra Raiders

Ryan Hoffman - Melbourne Storm

Josh Jackson - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Dan Hunt - St George Illawarra Dragons

Nathan Fien - St George Illawarra Dragons

Cameron Ciraldo - Penrith Panthers

Ben Ross - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

Daniel Mortimer - Sydney Roosters

Joel Reddy - West Tigers
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Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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