By Lachlan Cheney
Illawarra Cutters captain Tyrone McCarthy will continue dictating the play in the off-season following on from the Grand Final fixture against the Mt Pritchard Mounties at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta on Sunday.
Utilising his Bachelors of Education (Honours) degree, the second-rower will switch his focus to continue the work he does for non-profit organisation The Full Blood Project working alongside like-minded individuals.
The Full Blood Project established the charity with the aim of using rugby league to help young people suffering poverty, conflict, disease and inequality across the globe strive for a better life.
The Ireland international has previously worked in Fiji and the UK, however, it was on a trip to Gambia with then club Warrington Wolves in 2012 that he first felt the urge to help struggling communities.
After volunteering in West Africa, the back-rower was empowered by the potential rugby league has to encourage suffering children to better themselves, and began talking with his now partners to kick start the Full Blood Project.
“It’s an organisation that helps kids to fulfill their potential, whether its education or playing rugby league,” said McCarthy.
“We started off in Fiji with the young rugby players over there and we began helping them get prepared for life outside of their village if they did come out to Australia to play for NRL clubs.
“Obviously for the younger lads, we need to teach them about the different cultural issues they’ll face if they want to come over and test themselves in rugby league.
“They’ll go from a small village on a lonely island into the big bad city, and it’s just preparing them for that sort of stuff.
“We have also taken the charity to the UK and we did a lot of work with kids who have been kicked-out of mainstream school so I did some mentoring with them to help get them back on the right track.
“Also we do work in Africa, where it’s about participation and getting the kids engaged with a new sport, or spreading messages about health and awareness, we just need to get them educated.
“Last year we also held our first volunteer program out in Africa with a program devised to engage with the young kids about the benefits of school while also raising the topics of health and social issues.
“We’ve got another visit to Africa in November following on from last year, so that will be a key focus for the next couple of months, in building for 2017.”