St George Illawarra Dragons duo Jason Nightingale and Bronson Harrison were recently on hand to assist in a mentoring role with players from the juniors rans currently undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships.

This role, supported through the NRL’s “Trade Up” program, looks to encourage these young players as they strive towards gaining a qualification in a trade, whilst pursuing an NRL playing career.

As part of this mentoring, both New Zealand internationals took the young players out to dinner and discussed the importance of goal setting, time management and good communication skills.

“We really wanted to let the boys know that all the skills that make them good players, also make them good employees,” said Harrison, who has a number of business interests away from the game.

“They really have to ensure that what they learn at training is transferred into their work environment so they are successful in this area as well.”

The assistance these players are providing for the young “Dragons Tradies” is ongoing, and has provided these boys an opportunity to gain assistance from these senior players about both on and off field matters.

“These kids do it really tough, often leaving home at six in the morning for work, heading straight to training after that and not returning home till around eight at night,” said Nightingale, who himself started off a trade before finally pursuing an NRL career.

“They get up and do it all again the following day.

“We are trying to help them through setting small goals, so that they stay at it and can eventually gain their trade as well as be successful on the field.

“I really wish that I had stuck at it and had this sort of assistance from the club and the NRL when I was younger.

“These players are getting some great support now, and we are encouraging them to make the most of it.”

The Trade Up program is right across the NRL , and the Dragons are currently offering the same opportunity afforded these National Youth Competition players to players pursuing a trade who play in the local leagues.

“Having the opportunity to sit down with experienced guys like Bronson and Jason is certainly exciting,” said NYC centre and second-year apprentice Brent Anderson.

“They have been helping us get our stuff sorted off the field so that we can succeed there and hopefully this helps us on the field as well.”

Anyone interested in being involved in the program as an employer can contact the Club’s Education Officer Scott Stewart at sstewart@dragons.com.au.