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Photo courtesy of Milton Ulladulla Times

Having started his journey in Rugby League as a 14-year-old, Nathaniel Morrison’s love of the game and its rewarding experiences is what keeps him involved to this day.

“Rugby League’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Morrison said.

“You start playing and then when you get too old to play, you take up more of a mentoring, more of a coaching role.”

Morrison, who hails from Moa Island from the Torres Strait Islands, said Indigenous Round had an important role to play in helping raise awareness about closing the gap.

“A lot of volunteers don’t do it for themselves, they do it for future generations and those kids,” Morrison said.

“If we can make some positive change and make some positive relationships within the playing groups that we coach then that’s just an added bonus.”

Morrison said the best part about coaching was the “little wins” rather than the final score.

“I don't measure my success from the amount of wins, or the amount of Grand Finals,” he explained.

“I measure my success from player retention and the smile on the kids’ faces.

“If you can keep getting kids to come back and play our game year after year after year, to me that's a huge success, and if they're enjoying playing the game that's even better.”

Milton Ulladulla is where it all began for Morrison across junior and senior levels, and he’s also coached Illawarra South Coast in the SLE Andrew Johns Cup as well as the Men’s Country Championships. He has even served on the Group 7 Board and is now involved in the NSWRL RISE program.

But on top of that Rugby League juggling act, Morrison finds the time to work with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice in the Youth Justice sector, making just as big a difference for many off the field too.

“It’s a rewarding role; I’ve been fortunate enough to be allowed to run some Rugby League programs in the Youth Justice centres out in the Riverina and far West,” he said.

“That’s more like using Rugby League as a vehicle for positive change for those kids in the centres, and that is in line with the NSWRL Rise program. Just teaching these kids fundamental Rugby League skills, but also a message behind the skills and decision making.

“It is hard (keeping on top of different roles), coaching Group 7 reps and then Country Championships for South Coast Dragons, then doing Nations of Origin and Aboriginal knockouts, week-to-week footy with Milton Ulladulla and a board member for Group 7 Seniors and Juniors. It’s hard to find the spare time but when I do, I really cherish that.”

And with all that experience, Morrison’s best advice came for those interested in making their own positive difference in community Rugby League.

“Every community Rugby League club out there needs volunteers, and if you’ve got the drive and you’ve got the passion and drive for it, jump in and don’t be scared to ask questions,” he said.

“When we get volunteers in, we don’t expect them to know everything, and we don’t know everything.

“If you jump into a club, get involved, take on feedback and just develop yourself as well, because if you can develop yourself then you can help develop these kids better.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours 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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