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Sharks star Ben Rosss work with young people who are mentally and physically disabled has earned him a nomination for the prestigious Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra, to be announced at the 2013 NRL One Community Awards, which will kick off the Telstra Premiership Grand Final Week.

The award, won last year by Cowboys Co-Captain Johnathan Thurston, recognises an NRL player who has demonstrated exceptional community service.

Ross is among 15 finalists including NRL Club Captains Michael Ennis (Bulldogs), Ben Creagh (Dragons), Kurt Gidley (Knights), Terry Campese (Raiders), Tim Mannah (Eels) and Nate Myles (Titans), as well as Joe Galuvao (Manly), Scott Prince (Broncos), Clint Newton (Panthers), Brent Tate (Cowboys), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters), Billy Slater (Storm), Steve Rapira (Warriors) and Lote Tuqiri (Wests Tigers).

Ross is an Ambassador for the R U OK? Foundation, which aims to help others overcome depression and similar feelings to what he went through while recovering from his neck injury in 2000.

I feel extremely privileged to be a finalist for the 2013 Ken Stephen Medal and it is an absolute honour to have my name mentioned alongside former Sharks greats including David Peachey and Andrew Ettingshausen, who have also been nominated for this award in years past, said Ross.

I enjoy supporting and interacting with the local and greater community whilst representing the Sharks.

Meeting and doing what I can for kids and disabled fans is a genuine passion and anything I can do to help, in my own time and as a representative of the Sharks and of the NRL, is a privilege.

Growing up as a kid from the country it was a real treat for me to meet NRL players so I understand the impact our visits have.

This makes what we are able to do as individuals and as a sport extremely rewarding.

The seventh annual NRL One Community Awards will be held on Monday, 30 September, at Sydneys Town Hall and is set to be an inspiring evening of celebration for the contributions made by NRLs unsung heroes including volunteers, grassroots clubs, teachers, students, and NRL players.

Every year Im blown away by the tireless contributions made by those in the grassroots Rugby League community, said NRL Interim Community, Culture and Diversity General Manager, Mr Mark deWeerd.

The game would not be at the level it is today without their support, dedication and commitment.

Since 1988 the Ken Stephen Medal has honoured the likes of ARL Commissioner, Wayne Pearce, Andrew Ettingshausen, Mark Coyne, Peter Sterling, Hazem El Masri, Nathan Hindmarsh, Andrew Ryan, Sam Thaiday and last years winner, Johnathan Thurston, for their contributions to the game and the community.

The One Community Awards has a prize pool of over $50,000 across eight award categories including the Holden National Volunteer of the Year, Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Awards (Professional and Volunteer), Telstra One Community Grassroots Club of the Year, AAMI Service to Refereeing, AAMI Service to the Community Award, National Teacher of the Year (Primary and Secondary School) and the Young Indigenous Learn Earn Legend! Award.

The finalist for these awards will be announced soon.

The public will have a chance to vote for the winner of the Ken Stephen Medal, with the public winner earning one vote for the final judging stage. Voting for the Ken Stephen Medal will open at the end of the month.

Follow the NRL One Community Twitter feed @rlonecommunity and the official NRL Twitter feed @NRL, and like the NRL One Community Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the latest information.

The finalists for the 2013 Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra are:

Broncos - Scott Prince

Bulldogs - Michael Ennis (Captain)

Raiders - Terry Campese (Captain)

Cowboys - Brent Tate

Dragons - Ben Creagh (Captain)

Eels - Tim Mannah (Co-captain)

Knights - Kurt Gidley (Captain)

Sea Eagles - Joe Galuvao

Panthers - Clint Newton

Roosters - Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

Sharks - Ben Ross

Storm - Billy Slater

Titans - Nate Myles (Co-captain)

Warriors - Steve Rapira

Wests Tigers - Lote Tuqiri

NB: The Rabbitohs have elected not to nominate one individual player for this award.

Telstra will give $5,000 to the winner and $5,000 to their favourite charity.
Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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