NRL player Jayden Okunbor was so determined to get a grip on Shakespeare that he sought help from a school girl and a teacher, and earned a nomination for The Frownlow Medal.
The Canterbury player was inspired during an official Bulldogs visit to a high school in Port Macquarie, and took the 17-year-old female student back to the team hotel to help him with his homework. After the pair ‘did their homework’, Okunbor decided he needed some private tuition, and called on the assistance of a teacher he had met at a different local school.
As a result, Okunbor and the student are now expected to perform very well in their end-of-year-exams.
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. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL player Ben Barba is the most recent recipient.
It has since been revealed that Okunbor communicated in some ‘flirtatious’ messaging with the girl before arranging to meet her in person, and these social media messages have been investigated by the NRL Integrity Unit.
According to screenshots of the conversation, Okunbor asks the girl,
“Were you at the school today?” which clearly indicates that he needed clarification with the narrative techniques used in MacBeth, which were discussed during English lessons that day.
His actions, and the actions of his ‘classmate’ Corey Harawira-Naera (who also needed help with his homework) did cost the Canterbury Bulldogs their major sponsor, which withdrew from its contact the day before the first game of the NRL season – in which the Bulldogs play the Eels.
Okunbor earned his Frownlow nomination not for doing anything illegal, unlike many of his fellow nominees. He has not broken the law, the sex was entirely consensual and the women were above the age of consent.
The scandal did, however, force captain Josh Jackson to attend an official NRL photo session without a major sponsor on the front of his jersey, and he stood out like the kid in the playground that no one wants to pick for a game of footy.
Okunbor, and Harawira Naera, have been suspended by the Bulldogs, so they will now have more time to study Macbeth and trigonometry. They will, however, be studying alone for the time being.