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For his outstanding work in the community and the selfless manner in which he embraces and engages with all he comes into contact with, Ronaldo Mulitalo has been awarded the Ken Stephen Medal for 2021.

The NRL’s most prestigious community award, Mulitalo was announced as the winner prior to the kick-off of the NRL Grand Final earlier today.

Mulitalo, who is motivated to make a difference to those less fortunate through his challenging upbringing and the influence of his family, was present at Suncorp Stadium to accept the award.

Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta has applauded the efforts of Ronaldo Mulitalo in also praising the work carried out by Sharks Have Heart.

“Congratulations to Ronaldo on winning the Ken Stephen Medal. It is well deserved recognition for the work he does and for his dedication to community causes. He has a huge heart and despite a challenging year including the serious jaw injury which ended his season, his commitment to the community never wavered,” Mezzatesta said.

“With Sharks Have Heart, there is no doubt we have NRL-leading community programs in place, with Ronaldo’s Ken Stephen Medal an endorsement not only of him as an individual, but reward for Sharks Have Heart for what they do in the community.”

Mulitalo follows in the footsteps of Sam Tagataese, the Sharks most recent winner of the award when he was presented the Ken Stephen Medal in 2017.

Also the winner of the Sharks Have Heart Community award for 2021,  an award presented by good friend and mentor Andrew Fifita, where in a typically selfless gesture Mulitalo immediately re-gifted the prize back to Fifita for the guidance and support he receives from his senior teammate, the character of the Sharks outside back was emphasised at a recent game held in Mackay,

Despite suffering a severe facial injury during the match, Mulitalo farewelled and thanked the crowd after fulltime before gifting his boots to a young fan.

Mulitalo willingly gives his time and lends his profile to numerous causes, in particular through his relationship with Stepping Stone House, the award-winning charity that provides displaced youth a safe home along with educational and employment opportunities.

He is also a regular visitor to the Sharks supported Skillz4Me program, in helping to delivers weekly sports and social programs for families with children with disability and in 2020 his support for friend and former teammate Fine Kula during his battles with brain cancer, was unconditional.

More recently, Mulitalo again displayed his passion to giving back by connecting with a young Sharks fan Conrad, who is battling Leukemia.

Despite a number of road blocks due to the Covid related restrictions, Sharks Have Heart engaged and supported the community once again throughout 2021.

Players visited schools when they could, attended events until they were largely shut down and interacted throughout the year with community organisations via virtual zooms and video conferencing communications.

Many events, causes and initiatives were organised through Sharks Have Heart, the Sharks charity arm, with the players, as displayed by Mulitalo’s support of Stepping Stone House, often taking it upon themselves to give back and use their profile to make a difference.

Mulitalo beat out a field of equally commendable community performers, Cody Walker (Souths), Jamal Fogerty (Titans) and Ryan Matterson (Eels) amongst them, who were also included in the top four ahead of the final award announcement.