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'It's an awesome feeling': Butcher building beautiful bonds

What was kick-started as part of a university degree has developed into a beautiful relationship with the Boys and Girls Brigade in Sydney's Surry Hills for Nat Butcher.

The Roosters forward often dedicates time to working with the organisation, which assists disadvantaged youth and their families, and will continue the connection beyond his course requirements.

Butcher, who is involved in a range of other initiatives including regular visits to Ronald McDonald House, has been nominated for the Ken Stephen Medal, proudly brought to you by Your Local Club.

"For one of my uni [Bachelor of Business Admin] subjects, the first semester was a community engagement subject," Butcher said.

"They encouraged us to reach out and volunteer for community organisations. Through the Roosters a couple of years ago, we worked a bit with the Boys and Girls Brigade at Surry Hills.

"I really enjoyed my time there and really loved getting to know the kids, playing sport and building relationships and connections with them, so I contacted them to do my volunteering hours."

The 24-year-old back-rower has joined in a wide variety of games with the Boys and Girls Brigade such as dodgeball and basketball - even using Lego and playdough alongside the younger kids.

"I work a bit with their school holiday programs on our days off. Our training schedule can get pretty hectic," Butcher said.

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"There's not just one thing that I love, it's the consistency of the days and the time that I get to spend with them," he added.

Generous in nature, Butcher has felt privileged to bond with sick children at Randwick's Ronald McDonald House.

He went beyond what was expected, organising extra visits to the hospital this year including on a long weekend.

"It's a great partnership the Roosters have started up this year to work with the Ronald McDonald House," Butcher said.

"Long turnarounds [between matches], we'll go and spend an hour and a half at the Ronald McDonald House.

"We chat to the kids, chat to the families, the parents. Hang out with them and, again, we just play games, we watch TV. Do whatever they want to and allow that escape for them.

"It's an awesome feeling to be able to have an impact on a kid that's going through such a hard time, or even their siblings and how hard they're doing it too.

"To be able to have that positive impact and be a real break in their day of intense treatment is pretty special.​

"We know a lot of them are big rugby league fans, so to further our relationship with them, I know the club are looking at doing a few more things and continuing to build that partnership with them."

Elsewhere, Butcher has enthusiastically presented the League Stars Inspire program at schools, promoting resilience, respect, health and wellbeing to the next generation.

"To deliver important messages that have passed through the NRL - it's pretty important for kids nowadays," he said.

"I think they really take that on board, listen and learn."

And the 2019 title winner's selflessness was on display in the pre-season as he helped tee up a two-hour trip to Casino to promote the game when the Roosters were in the Northern Rivers region.

If Butcher was to win the fan vote, which will decide one of four Ken Stephen Medal finalists and closes on August 8, he will take out a $3500 cash prize for his junior club, the South Eastern Seagulls.

"It would mean a lot. South Eastern is such a great club. It was the one junior club that I played for, I had 13 years there, and I know they would greatly appreciate the funds," Butcher said.

"It's really grown, South Eastern, over the past couple of years, so I know much-needed equipment would be used for the players."

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters 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.