A former NSW Sky Blues captain, a True Blue, two former NRL players and NSW Country reps, and three metropolitan and regional community football stalwarts are among seven members of the NSW Rugby League community to receive Australia Day honors today.
The NSW Rugby League would like to congratulate those who were recognized among the 736 total recipients of the 2023 awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
One of the highest honors, Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO), was awarded to former NSW Sky Blues and NSW Country captain Katrina Fanning.
Fanning, also the Chair of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Committee (ARLIC) and a Board member for the Canberra Raiders and Family of League, was one of 47 Australians to be awarded an AO.
She was recognized for distinguished service to the Indigenous community through education, health initiatives, and to sport.
Six other members of the NSW Rugby League community were among the 506 recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia General Division (OAM), including the late Peter (Ace) McDonald of Cowra, who passed away in July 2021, and received the honor posthumously.
The others included: Bill and Karyn Borg, Life Members of the St Clair Junior Rugby League Club; Preston Campbell, former NSW Country representative (2005-07); Garry Leo, Balmain Tigers Board member and True Blue (1967); and Clint Newton, Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) Chief Executive and former NSW Country representative (2007).
The Borgs, who are considered the heart and soul of St Clair JRL, were recognized for their service to Rugby League. Bill has been a volunteer since 1986 and secretary of St Clair Junior Rugby League Club from 1989-2021; while Karyn was Statistics Co-ordinator from 1984-2021. Bill is also a Life Member of the Penrith and District Junior Rugby League, while Karyn was Vice-President from 1990-98.
Inverell-born Campbell, who had a distinguished NRL career (1998-2006), was recognized for service to Indigenous youth, and to Rugby League. He is widely regarded as the driving force among the Indigenous All Stars concept and is an Ambassador for Indigenous mental health and other community programs.
Leo, who was a former Balmain Tigers first grade captain and a member of the 1969 Balmain Tigers premiership winning team, was recognized for service to Rugby League and to the community. He is the President of the Newcastle Hunter Branch of the Family of League Foundation, of which he has been a member since 2009.
The late McDonald, who was remembered as a legend of western NSW Rugby League, was recognized for his service to Rugby League. He was a former Country Rugby League Director (2009-2019) and Western Division Rams Rugby League Chairman (2008-2021).
In 2022, the NSWRL ran a competition open to all clubs from Group 10 and Group 11 in western NSW named in his honor, the Peter McDonald Premiership.
Newton, who played 273 games in the NRL and Super League (2001-15), was recognized for his service to Rugby League. He has been CEO and Managing Director of the RLPA since 2020 and a Board member from 2004-07 and again since 2013.