There is no denying the impact that the NRL has had on Australian football.
But how did it change the way players played, the way they made money, the kind of careers they built and the ways they saw themselves?
For the first time, the NRL now has a platform for players to speak about their own journeys and aspirations.
It has helped to build a culture of respect and understanding.
“I grew up in a small town in Sydney,” says Australian of the Year and former Cowboys star Chris Judd.
“I was always a bit of a rebel and a rebel kid.
I wasn’t going to let anybody tell me what I could or couldn’t do, I was always determined to be the best that I could be.”
And as a kid, I always wanted to be a star.
“When Judd joined the Cowboys, he was a big kid who looked up to the big boys in the team.
But he soon found out that the bigger stars had their own agendas and he had to be his own man.”
My goal was to make it to the NRL. “
The older I got, the more I wanted to prove to myself that I was the best, the better I would become.”
My goal was to make it to the NRL.
My goal was that I would play as much as I possibly could.
So I just kept at it.
“That’s how Judd came to be named the best player in the NRL during a period of three decades.
And while it was a career he had never dreamed of, he admits that it was an amazing journey that led him to his current position at the Cowboys.”
That’s why I’m so happy with what I’ve achieved,” he says.”
To be named Player of the Season is so special and so humbling.
You don’t get to be recognised as a legend like that, you get to just be an average kid who does what he does and that’s what I did.
“And she knows how to make me feel at ease and make me believe in myself and that I’m going to get where I want to go.””
She’s a very intelligent person and a very strong person,” he jokes.
“And she knows how to make me feel at ease and make me believe in myself and that I’m going to get where I want to go.”
What’s it like being in the middle of a new era?
It’s not just that Judd has been named the biggest star in the league.
He’s also been a key player for the club and its fans in an era when the competition is getting tougher.
He’s won two premierships and the NRL Players Association of Australia has named him a “superstar” for his work with the team, along with fellow stars Robbie Farah and Dane Gagai.
Judd was a regular in the dressing room for a decade, but he also spoke about how his own career was different.
“When I was a young player, I thought that I’d be playing for a club and not a football club,” he said.
“So for me, I didn’t think I was going to be playing in a club for very long.”
The game changed for me.
I had to grow up.
And I grew up a different person and that is probably why I didn.
I’ve always been more of a man.
I think that is something I’ve been able to keep.
“It’s something he says he still believes in.”
It’s a great feeling.””
It’s a new day for me and I’m excited about it.
It’s a great feeling.”
What is the best part about being in this new era for the NRL?
“That the team I played for now is going to continue to grow and develop,” he concludes.
But is it all worth it?
For Judd, it is the players who are the key to his future success.
“You can never forget the players,” he laughs.
“They’ve been my idols and they’re still my idols, but I think the biggest thing is the coaches.
I have been a big believer in the coaches and the way that they run the team and what they believe in.
And they are the ones that are helping me grow as a player.”
And with that, he’s leaving the Cowboys behind.