You may have seen the letters on the front of the jersey during 2012 in green, just above the main sponsor – and in some good news for the Eels, the University of New England and the Parramatta Eels have renewed their apparel sponsorship, for the next two NRL seasons.

The opportunity for Eels players as well as community members of the Western Sydney region to educate themselves and study will be available, with UNE’s ‘Future Campus’ to open on Church Street in Parramatta next year.

The renewed sponsorship will see the Eels take a trial game up to Armidale, to play against the Newcastle Knights in 2013, with Eels CEO Bob Bentley pleased that both parties agreed to the renewal.

In an industry as competitive as rugby league you’re always looking for any area where you can get ahead and give your team the resources to improve,” Bentley said.

“For us, player welfare and education is just as important as on-field performance.

“Our partnership with UNE not only offers our players an important pathway to furthering their educations, it gives us access to some of the best sports science facilities in the country.

“We think it is important to ensure players have a meaningful career when their playing days are over and higher education plays a key part in that.”

Jim Barber, the UNE Vice-Chancellor, said that with the increased focus on sport by the University, the renewal of the sponsorship is also a boost for them, as well as the Eels.

“Our partnership with one of the country’s best known National Rugby League teams compliments UNE’s state-of- the-art facilities and new specialties in sports management and physical education,” Professor Barber said.

“We hope to further enhance our reputation for sporting excellence in the coming years and the Eels are part of that strategy.”

One Eels player who is not shy to study, is now retired winger Luke Burt, who said that with the sponsorship now renewed, it encourages NRL players to want to undertake a higher education, and to look at life beyond footy.

“I finished my studies with UNE when they joined the Club last year and am in a good position to provide advice to our guys on the importance of tertiary education,” Burt said.

“We have a few other players studying including Tim Mannah and Pat O’Hanlon and I definitely think there’s recognition there that they are setting themselves up for life after footy.”

By ricky

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