True Blues Jamie Buhrer and Damien Cook are now tertiary graduates with degrees from the Australian College of Physical Education – both proud to have combined study with their Rugby League careers.
Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues hooker Cook (pictured above with NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden) now holds a Bachelor of Health and Movement, while 2012 Blues utility Buhrer completed a Bachelor of Sports Business (Leadership).
Buhrer also won an Academic Excellence Award for the standards he reached during his course.
“I had a lot of help in my studies but I’m certainly grateful for that additional accolade,” Buhrer told nswrl.com.au
Cook is currently in camp with the Rabbitohs on the Sunshine Coast as they prepare for Saturday’s NRL Round 21 game against the Warriors at Kawana Waters’ Sunshine Coast Stadium.
But he wrote on social media that completing the degree was “one of my proudest moments.”
Buhrer also wants others to feel that level of achievement.
“I’m constantly talking to players to ensure they’re engaged in some level of study or career development,” he said.
“Ideally a Rugby League playing career is long but at some stage it does finish so you need to be prepared as possible for that.
“It will mean your transition into work post-Rugby League is a successful one,” Buhrer said.
He started working as a Player Operations Manager with the RLPA (Rugby League Players Association) after he retired from the NRL at the end of 2019 at the age of 29.
He played in two grand finals with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles – winning the 2011 Premiership over the Warriors and losing in 2013 to the Sydney Roosters. He moved to the Knights in 2017.
“I started studying while I was still playing but as a result of suffering my second ACL in a row,” Buhrer said. “I knew that if I continued to get these serious injuries I wouldn’t have a (NRL) contract for long.
“So I worked with Judy Fitzgerald from our Wellbeing and Education team at the time and she pushed me into a course in sports business, which has served me well in my career so far post-rugby league.
“In my RLPA role now I work quite closely with the NRL/RLPA Wellbeing and Education team and it’s something I’m passionate about.
“Sport in general is a space I enjoy – it’s familiar having played at a high-level. The degree has taught me some essential skills for any job really but it’s certainly helped me at the RLPA,” he said.
Cook is on the RLPA’s Player Advisory Group so he and Buhrer have also crossed paths there, as well as last week’s graduation ceremony.
“We did different degrees, so we didn’t see a lot of each other, but we did graduate together,” Buhrer said.
“He’s a really great guy, a great player and player advocate. It was an honour to stand alongside him with our degrees.”