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Timely reminder of league's supportive network

It was born from a couple of rugby league players talking in the dressing room about their concerns following the deaths of several talented young rugby league players.

Three suicides in three months in 2013 not only rang alarm bells within the sport but also with Redcliffe Dolphins teammates Petero Civoniceva and Isaak Ah Mau.

"We had a profile, we were senior players within our club at the time and we wanted to do something that could hopefully make a difference," Civoniceva told QRL Media, following last weekend's Intrust Super Cup 'Turn To Me' round, and ahead of tonight's Petero Civoniceva Medal presentation.

The two concerned footballers decided to enlist the help of Ipswich Jets chairman Steve Johnson and together they began throwing around ideas about how they make a difference.

"We were sitting around one day talking and Steve suddenly said: 'I know the perfect song that could lead this awareness campaign'," recalled Civoniceva.

"The next minute he was on the phone to Pete Murray (award-winning Australian song-writer) talking to him about our ideas.

"Murray told him he would be honoured to have his song Better Days used in any add campaign designed to help the community.

"From little things, big things grow."

Last weekend the focus was on reminding everyone in the community of their duty to look after their mates.

Rugby league has been a wonderful vehicle for bridging the gap with its many Indigenous programs and also championing the cause to stamp out violence against men and women.

It's also heavily involved in drawing attention to other issues, including mental health and being aware of what is going on with family and friends and asking if they need help.

"It's all about raising awareness and providing more education," said Civoniceva.

While there are still players and coaches who find it difficult to confide their problems in others, Civoniceva believes campaigns like 'Turn to Me' are making a difference.

"We're chipping away but there is still a way to go yet," he said.

"Unfortunately, in Australia a lot of old mindsets still exist.

"But we are providing more and more education and more awareness of the importance of reaching out and seeking counsel at times when you are in trouble.

"'Turn to Me' is not just a campaign for people suffering from depression. It is for anyone with personal problems, financial problems, even drug and gambling problems.

"No problem is too great and no problem is too small," says the rugby league icon.

"It's getting our young people to understand how unloading a burden off their shoulders can help them take the next step forward."

"Just being able to check-in with people if you notice any behavioural changes in them (helps).

"It's about community and about looking out for each other if you notice any changes or anything out of the ordinary.

"It's about being brave enough to ask the question and being direct with the question.

"Sometimes as Aussies, we joke around a bit but sometimes, when you notice something might not be right, you need to be direct and ask the tough question."

Whether a victim of mental or physical health – we're still unsure - the sudden death last week of former St George rugby league star Lance Thompson, who passed away in his Cronulla home aged 40, leaving behind three beautiful children, is a timely and sad reminder how the rugby league community responds in times of tragedy.

An organisation which does plenty to look after the fraternity, Men of League, will host its annual charity lunch in Brisbane next month with over 900 guests expected to attend.

This year's theme is Super League, featuring special guests John Ribot, Benny Elias, Trevor Gillmeister and Chris Johns, all of whom were involved in the great split in the 1990s.

Men of League's Queensland manager and former Queensland and Australian forward Dave Shillington said his organisation still needed a lot more members to get on board.

"We have about 8,000 members and growing," he said of the organisation started in 2001 by South Sydney great Ron Coote.

"We are here for the greater rugby league community to help out when we can and let them know they don't have to suffer in silence and do it tough all by themselves.

"There is plenty of support available so put your hand up and tell us when you are struggling."

"There's no shame in it and you don't need to feel embarrassed.

"Men of League are helping people all day, every day and there are more support services out there as well and initiatives, just like 'Turn to Me' round to highlight that.

"You just need to ask."