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When Jacob Host isn't donning the Red V or sweating it out at training, he has been hitting the books where he is undergoing a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science.

In preparation for life after football, the 23-year-old has been diligently chipping away at his studies while balancing a full-time professional career and now finds himself on the cusp of graduation.

Through a partnership with the Dragons' science and conditioning co-ordinator Billy Hulin, the promising forward is completing his final university work placement at the club with a goal of one day stepping into a similar role.

"Billy has been fantastic. He did a very similar subject so he has that knowledge in the field," Host said.

"He isn't cracking the whip, he just lets you know what to do and what's expected, which is good because it's an intense environment around here sometimes."

During his studies, the biggest challenge Jacob encountered was finding time around long training and travel hours with the Dragons' NRL squad.

Attempting to juggle both a degree and a professional sporting career is no easy feat, but Host said it ultimately came down to attitude and work ethic.

"It has been difficult at times. There is a heavy workload here at training and some days you get home and you’re not feeling up to it," Host said.

"It comes down to time management. You need to set a time each week to sit down and do your work.

"You have to know what you need to do, and when to get it done by. That's the mindset you need to have because if you fall behind you can fall behind pretty quickly.

Entrenched in the professional sporting world since a teenager, the Renown United junior is keen to stay in the industry once his playing days are over.

"I've always had a fascination with sport and obviously being a professional athlete. It's something I'd like to do in the future. Hopefully either with a professional sporting team or athletes," Host said.

"It's something that I'm pursuing for life after footy. You have to think about those things when you're in a career you’re not sure how long it’s going to last for."

Host hasn't been the only Dragon who has been hitting the books this year.

Centre Euan Aitken is nearing the completion of a Bachelor of Exercise Science while Tristan Sailor has recently completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Public Relations) at the University of Wollongong.

Prop Blake Lawrie also achieved a big personal milestone this year, finishing his fourth vocational qualification – a Certificate III in Financial Services. Adam Clune also completed a Bachelor of Laws-Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) with distinction.

"It's good to see a few of the lads around my age have taken that opportunity to better themselves away from the game," Host said.

"It sets a good example for the younger lads so they know they can do it. They don't have to worry whether they will juggle it, they see us and think 'these guys have done it so why can't we'.

Dragons Women's Premiership star Jessica Sergis has also been keeping her rugby league dreams alive while completing studies.

Watch Jess's interview below as he discusses the qualifications she had received while balancing a prosperous playing career.

Real skills for real careers: Jess Sergis

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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