Former Dally M Medal winner Preston Campbell believes the legacy of the All Stars concept he helped establish can be seen in the success of the NRL School to Work program.
Campbell, the driving force behind the regular pre-season game involving an Indigenous All Stars team in 2010, joined South Sydney captain Greg Inglis and a host of former NRL players at a lunch on Thursday to celebrate the graduation of 308 participants in the School to Work program.
With the program continuing to grow and the number of participants set to surpass 500 next year, Campbell said the All Stars concept had demonstrated how the game could have a significant impact in the community.
"Rugby league has been a great way to be able to message so many people," Campbell said.
"Things like this stem from things like the All Stars. We see so many people come together to make the All Stars happen and we see the ripple effect of it now. Rugby league, like many sports with profile, can do great things for communities."
NRL stars celebrate School to Work program
Since 2014, more than 900 students have successfully participated in the NRL school to work initiative, with over 95 per cent transitioning into an employment or education placement.
"We want them to stay at school, get an education and get a career," Hall of Fame inductee and former Manly great Cliff Lyons said.
More than 30 NRL School to Work program students and young Indigenous leaders joined sponsors at the lunch, where some were offered apprenticeships and traineeships by BGIS, Hutchinson Builders, Cushman & Wakefield and Evolve FM.
A planned game of touch featuring the likes of Campbell, Lyons, Steve Menzies and Nathan Merritt was cancelled due to Sydney's wet weather but the graduates got to keep their specially designed jerseys.
Funds raised from the lunch will be donated to Indigenous charities – Cowboy House, Souths Cares and Tribal Warrior.