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The value of families and friendships shone through when many of the sport’s exciting new arrivals for 2024 met up at the year’s first meeting of the Oceania Rugby League Group.


The event was supported by Rugby League Cares and saw players, their partners and children who have recently arrived in the UK from the southern hemisphere come together for a now traditional warm winter welcome.


The Oceania Group was established five years ago by players who had enjoyed long careers with English clubs with the aim of supporting the next generations of overseas recruits.


The group met at Sharlston Rovers RLFC near Wakefield in late February when Oceania Group chairman Carl Hall was delighted with a productive and engaging afternoon.


“It went really well and it was great to see so many of the new boys and their families for the first time,” said Carl.


“We feel it’s vital we get the new arrivals together early in the year just to explain what we do and how we want to look after them.


“There’s a support network outside of their clubs, not just for the players but for their families as well. It’s important that the families realise there are other partners and kids here like them who can be their new extended family.


“When a player joins a club he immediately has 36 new brothers but their families can be left at home feeling isolated.


“We usually find that when the wives and children come here they quickly forge close bonds.

“Our culture is far away from home, we want them to feel like they’re at home here in the UK. It’s very much a family within a family.


“It’s important for the clubs that the players are settled. Happy wife usually equals happy life! A player who’s settled in at home performs better on the field.”


The group is run entirely by, and for players with Pacific Island heritage, including Sheffield Eagles prop Jesse Sene-Lefao who was on hand at Sharlston to help roll out the welcome mat.


“Our culture is pillared around family, spirit and energy, we spend most of our time outside but when you come here to the UK you’re often stuck indoors on your own and if you’re not open to reach out to people you can really get into a dark place,” said Jesse.


“I have been here for eight years now and I know how it feels, that’s why this group is so important, not just for the new families but the ones who are already here.


You start to connect with your culture again, you see people who look like you and it’s really nice to have that connection.”


Highlights of the afternoon included a traditional ‘island feed’ cooked by the players themselves and a careers presentation by representative of the Prison Service who explained how players can transition into the industry at the end of their playing careers.


Sheffield full-back Quentin Laulu-Togaga'e said: “Careers advice and information is really popular with everyone and it was really interesting to hear about the opportunities that exist in the prison service.


“In the last couple of years we’ve have talks from the fire service and advice on working in social care and the boys have lapped it up. It’s important that players retain a sense of purpose once they finish playing.

“As players we identify as rugby players and once that’s gone it can be hard to find that same purpose.”


The Oceania RL Group’s next formal get together will be a celebration of the season just gone towards the end of the year but there are many activities and meeting taking place over the coming months.  Players can contact the Oceania Group via their club player welfare manager or by contacting Carl Hall at or 07506 647569



Happy wife usually equals happy life! A player who’s settled in at home performs better on the field.




"A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss.

That's the trade-off. But I'll take it all


- Brad Pitt



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