By the end of next month, the NRL will be well into making its mark on this 2024 season.
But I was interested to see Cameron Smith had stepped away from assisting Queensland coach Billy Slater as Billy’s assistant coach.
Cameron is rightly considered one of Queensland’s best ever players and was a major part of Slater’s Coaching team.
However, as I understand it, Smith’s motivation for stepping away from the Queensland camp was to get back into volunteer community coaching.
In my opinion this is a fantastic demonstration of selflessness by one of the games greats.
While the NRL captures all the glamour and glory on our television screens and certainly does provide sporting entertainment few other sports can capture, the game has a hidden jewel rarely given the credit it is due.
Our volunteer community coaches are for me the life blood of the game. They usually take on the role because they have kids involved or have had playing experience with the local club.
It is quite incredible when you see some of the sacrifices these volunteer coaches are prepared to make.
While I’m sure some would disagree, most of our volunteer community coaches get little to no support from their governing bodies and just do the best they can.
This often involves taking time off work to drive around picking up kids because their teams are short of players and even putting their hands in their own pockets to buy a few cold drinks and ice creams after the game.
The knowledge some of these coaches have been quite amazing, and many if ever given some sort of pathway would not look out of place in a NRL coaching team.
Unfortunately, as the game becomes more and more professional, some adopt the thinking that it is the money that makes you a professional. And there is certainly plenty of money sloshing around in the NRL at the moment. Volunteer community coaches are the hidden gem in our great game of Rugby League.