Corey Payne named in Academic Team of the Year
29 Aug 2011
University of Sydney Masters of Commerce student and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs star Corey Payne has been named in the NRL-RLPA's inaugural Academic Team of the Year.
Representing a radical shift from traditional rugby league values, the honourary concept recognises the academic achievements of elite players away from the football field and reflects the NRL's desire to have as many of its athletes as possible engaged in higher education programs.
"To be recognised for my efforts in this inaugural NRL Academic Team of the Year is a pretty big deal," says Payne. "It's a proud achievement, but hopefully it's also inspirational for some of the younger guys coming through. I came into first grade back in '05 and played lower grades since early 2000, and at that time there weren't a lot of players who were also studying at university. The higher you went through the grades, the less represented they were. So there's been a big generational shift by the NRL."
While regarded as an uncompromising competitor on the field, the academic credentials of the 27-year-old second-rower also rate as highly impressive. Having completed undergraduate Bachelor of Commerce studies majoring in accounting and commercial law prior to undertaking his Masters program, Payne has also established the Future Directions Network - a scholarship and mentoring initiative designed to encourage students form Western Sydney into higher education programs. He is also the recipient of the 2011 University of Sydney Young Alumni achievement award.
"The stereotype of rugby league players has always been as real boofhead types," reflects Payne. "It is a working-class game compared to rugby union, which is predominately played in the private school system, so you always see their players moving into investment banking or medical fields. That's something you haven't really seen with the league guys. But I think that's a stereotype we can now look at changing."