The NRL has announced 13 nominees for the 2021 Ken Stephen Medal, which recognises the community work put in off the field by league players.

The Gold Coast Titans’ Jamal Fogarty and the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Cody Walker have both received nominations.

Fogarty is a proud Indigenous man from the Mununjali area in Beaudesert, southwest of Brisbane. The 27-year-old made his NRL debut for the Titans in 2017 but only played two games β€” he then re-emerged in the top grade in 2020.

The Titans co-captain worked with at-risk juveniles in his role as a youth worker before securing a full-time NRL contract and he continues to put in the hours with the community, contributing the highest number of community hours at the club.

Fogarty works both within the NRL community and his own community, assisting with the launch of Titans Cultural Collective during Reconciliation Week as well as running rugby league training for disabled young adults through the Titans Leaguability Program.

The Gold Coast half-back also mentors Indigenous students through the Pathways to Success program and makes regular trips to Beaudesert to give back to his hometown.

Alongside Mununjali Housing and Development, Fogarty launched Jarjum Gurema,Β a book aimed to revive the Yugambeh language and encourage early literacy.

Rabbitohs star and proud Bundjalung-Yuin man Cody Walker has also received a nomination for his campaigns against racism and bullying as well as his support of issues of inequalities and mental health facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Walker puts in the work through the Souths Cares programs as well as the Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big) Program, Aboriginal Employment Program, Deadly Youth Mentoring Program and Rabbitohs Wellbeing Program.

Walker participates in wider community social justice issues, like attending the Change the Date March and objection by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ to singing the national anthem.

In 2020, the 31-year-old also supported the Batemans Bay and Bombala areas impacted by bushfires in NSW.

Walker has spent much of his free time supporting the Sydney Kings’ Indigenous Round, sponsoring the Redfern All Blacks women’s team, volunteering as a trainer for the Redfern All Blacks junior teams and mentoring the Bundjalung Baygal Warriors.

He has also been an advocate for better hygiene and social distancing practice in line with COVID-19 messaging, eSafety workshops within schools, and sharing health messages at the South Sydney Rabbitohs Community Carnival to over 4,500 students.

Three finalists will be chosen by a panel and fans will vote to determine the fourth finalist, with the player taking out the fan vote earning $3,500 for their junior rugby league club.

Fan voting closes on August 8.

By Teisha Cloos