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Merewether Carlton swapping rugby boots for bikes

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More than 20 fearless riders will rely on pedal power to navigate the Merewether Carlton Rugby Club’s inaugural Newcastle to Bathurst fundraiser.

The selfless group is expected to depart Townson Oval from 6.30am on Thursday 21 March and then tackle the gruelling 365km journey, finishing on Saturday 23 March.

The merry band of men and women, including players, coaches, managers, board members, Old Boys and junior parents, are aiming to raise $100,000 to assist the organisation’s Welfare and Wellbeing program, which offers support and access to psychological services and injury rehabilitation opportunities.

Merewether Carlton hopes to add concussion management to its agenda in the near future, too.

President Luke Tresidder said the event would put its “intrepid participants – including himself – outside of their comfort zone” to raise money for an important cause.

“Our Welfare and Wellbeing program, as well as this fundraising bike ride, is a great example of a local rugby club working with its members and the community to deliver more than just games of rugby,” he explained.

“We’re supporting our players in all aspects of their life… and I’m very proud to be a part of this initiative. 

“The level of support from the Merewether Carlton union family for the event has exceeded our expectations.

“There is no doubt that this initiative is a first for a local rugby club and a first for the Hunter.

“We are trailblazers in player welfare and will continue to lead the way to develop strategies that support the mental and physical health of all our players, coaches and managers.”

Event organiser, and Merewether Carlton Greens Foundation board member, Brodie Hussain admitted it had been a big job to get the fundraiser off the ground.

“The logistics of getting 26 riders safely from Newcastle to Bathurst should not be underestimated,” he said.

“Meals, accommodation, kit, back-up vehicles, local approvals and safety assessments etc.

“It has taken months of planning, training and commitment from the organising group and the riders themselves.

“This is not a race. 

“However, the group will be cycling 365km at speeds of 22-25km per hour riding six-to-eight hours per day for three days.

“They’ll also travel more than 1,000m of elevation each day – there are some big hills out there; it’s huge.

“We are well over halfway to our fundraising target of $100,000 and confident that we will achieve this ambitious goal.

“The riders and our generous sponsors have entirely funded the ride, so every dollar donated will be used for the Greens Welfare and Wellbeing program.”

Another to stress the importance of the fundraiser was Merewether Carlton Greens Foundation board member, former player, Welfare and Wellbeing Working Group convenor and ride participant Gareth Ernst.

“It can’t be understated what the club is doing,” he said.

“Our Welfare and Wellbeing Working Group has implemented a unique program that supports its junior and senior players, coaches and managers to access psychological services and injury rehabilitation.

“Our club also recently engaged NewPsych to create the Greens Assistance Program, offering confidential mental health counselling and support to our Merewether Carlton community.

“We are committed to supporting both mental and physical wellbeing for our players and community.

“So, the funds raised from this bike ride will make sure we can continue to do that well into the future.”

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