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Players make a difference in 'once-in-a-lifetime' Fiji trip

When players talk about the best trip they've ever been on in the off-season it's usually a relaxing holiday but for Junior Tatola it was going to Suva in Fiji and helping out the community.

Tatola, along with fellow NRL players Jayson Bukuya, David Nofoaluma and Victor Radley and NRLW stars Sam Bremner and Corban McGregor, experienced all that Fiji had to offer as part of Clint Newton's "Transformer" trip.

The group got the opportunity to learn about the Fijian culture while undertaking some aid work in the community – running sports clinics, supporting kids in the classroom and lending a hand with construction and renovation work.

Newton's advice to the group was to embrace the experience and Tatola said the trip's title proved to be more than just a catch phrase.

"I definitely felt like I came back from the experience transformed," Tatola said.

"Before going on the trip I was very nervous but since I've come back it's helped me become a better person.

"Clint asked two things of us before went over to Fiji which was to make it work whatever happens and to embrace everything.

"I think those two things really brought us together and made us soak up all that the experience had to offer.

"The trip was a once in a lifetime experience – one of the best trip I've been on."

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Along with helping out the community, the group also got to explore the surrounding islands, learn how to weave, and enjoy the beautiful Fijian water with some paddle boarding and snorkelling.

Sam Bremner said the success of the trip was credit to Newton's hard work and the countless hours he put in to his passion project to ensure that it would be transformative experience for all.

"We went into the experience with a really open mind, open heart and up for any challenge," Bremner said.

"We were so overwhelmed when we were leaving Fiji and just how much we got out of it.

"Every day Clint told us how grateful he was that we said yes to this opportunity and said that we've made it what it is, but he's the one who made this happen and provided this amazing opportunity to us.

"He deserves so much recognition for what he's done – he didn't just help change the lives of those in Fiji but he definitely helped change our lives, our perspective and the way we see things."

Newton, who created the Transformers concept with help from strategic management and industry engagement professional Laura Steele, said the experience went well beyond what he had anticipated.

"I had high expectations of the trip because I believed in the people that we had involved with it, but it very much exceeded those expectations," Newton said.

"We did it as a group – everyone that come along chose to be there and chose to engage and participate in a way that made the program successful.

"I can't speak highly enough of the Fijian community. Everywhere we went they couldn't have been more accommodating – they gave us a helping hand and also educated us on their culture and their community, it was pretty special."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons 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 Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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