Former NRL star Julian O’Neill has been nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding off-field career.
The Queensland and Kangaroos player accepted the nomination in Dubbo, where he was speaking to promote organic farming techniques to rural Australia.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. The first medal was awarded to Sydney Roosters and New Zealand representative Shaun Kenny-Dowall in 2015.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players who receive media attention for similarly scandalous behaviour and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Todd Carney.
In front of a band of loyal supports, which included Jack Elsegood, Danny Weidler and Jeremy Schloss, O’Neill responded to the nomination and spoke more widely of the benefits of organic farming.
“I’m enormously proud to be nominated for this award, and to promote organic farming,” he said
“Organics can include using organic fertilisers which provide many nutrients to the soil, wherever you spread them. The great thing about organic fertilisers is that they’re readily available to all of us all the time, we can even produce it ourselves at home,” he explained.
“I’m also excited to be back in Dubbo, where I first started promoting organic fertilisers, back in the day when I was playing for South Sydney, BC (Before Crowe)”
Such tireless and widely publicised community service places O’Neill in a strong position to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but is no guarantee. To achieve the honour, he will have to hold off the challenge of former players such as John Hopoate and Paul ‘Bloody Mary’ McGregor, who were nominated earlier this year.
To increase his chances, O’Neill also took the opportunity to educate the people about bushfire reduction and water safety.
“Sometimes the best way to prevent a fire, is to start a fire, even though this might sound dangerous at first.
Also, we see and hear about so many injuries and deaths from drowning each year in Australia, including in regional areas. So I urge all parents to teach and encourage their children to swim, even if they don’t have proper swimming costumes and even if they don’t have their own pool – you can even practice swimming in a river.”
The names of the footballers to be inducted in The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame will be announced in October upon the completion of the winter codes’ grand finals.
First published in May 2016