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Veteran Titans back Dale Copley.

Dale Copley has routinely felt the rush of playing in front of a packed crowd, but one of the Titans veteran's "coolest" experiences came at a Brisbane hospital.

The 29-year-old, who has been a terrific role model during his 11 NRL seasons, is nominated for the 2020 Ken Stephen Medal – proudly brought to you by My Property Consultants.

Copley very rarely turns down community appearances and has no doubt positively affected many people, but a young boy he met two years ago named Patrick still inspires him.

"He was fighting cancer at the time. I walked into his [hospital] room and it was just covered in Titans supporter gear," Copley said.

"I remember thinking, man, this kid's a crazy fan. You don't see a heap of that at the Titans. The kids up here [in Brisbane] are generally Broncos fans.

"So to see such a passionate Titans fan was awesome. And then when I met him, he just had something about him that just made you walk away with a huge smile on your face.

Player advocate Dale Copley.
Player advocate Dale Copley. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"It's really hard to explain what it was about him, but he just had that attitude and he was so happy given what he was fighting."

The Titans centre kept in touch with Patrick's father via social media and saw his new friend "probably another two or three times", including a members day where they played mini golf.

And on Christmas Eve, Copley attended Patrick's bell-ringing ceremony at hospital to mark the conclusion of his treatment.

"That was one of the coolest things I've ever been at," Copley said.

"It was the end of a really tough treatment and obviously he'd gone through a really tough time, but he was probably happier to see me rock up which was humbling.

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What an honour to have little Patrick ask me to come along to watch him ring the cancer bell this morning. No more treatment for this little champion 🛎🎉🏅

A post shared by @ dalecopley on

"But I suppose it speaks to the impact you can have on kids. It's probably another reason why I don't say no to things too much.

"I suppose as footy teams and professional athletes, we talk about resilience and toughness. But this kid, if you could bottle it up and give it to an NRL team, coaches would absolutely love it."

Copley represented the Titans on the NRL's Road to Regions tour in February when he visited the drought-stricken regions of St George and Lightning Ridge to run footy clinics and lift the spirits of locals.

But, again, it was Copley who was moved.

"You've got a great insight into how resilient some people are," he said.

"There's certainly a difference between city people and country people. Just the welcome we got there was unreal from people that are doing it extremely tough given the drought.

"Their ability to make money hinged on the weather and that wasn't being kind to them, [but] they were just so nice.

"And then the kids, due to the fact they don't see NRL players often or at all, they were just so excited to see us."

It's not only the public whom Copley is dedicated to helping. An NRL Wellbeing and Education ambassador who is studying law, he presented a workshop to Titans, Burleigh Bears and Tweed Heads under-18s players about personal branding.

NRL State of Mind Program - Burleigh Bears Juniors

The former Bronco and Rooster is also an advocate for the NRL State of Mind and Voice Against Violence initiatives.

"I've had to do some training in the mental health space, so I've learnt a fair bit in that area which has been obviously beneficial on a personal level," he said.

"Getting to deliver those programs to kids and football clubs, I feel like when it comes from a person with a Titans shirt on that plays in the NRL, rightly or wrongly, it probably holds a bit more weight."

Of his Ken Stephen Medal nomination, Copley said: "it's certainly not something you do the work in the community for, but I suppose it's a good recognition.

"It's really humbling to think that you can have that impact, but I think the older you get the more you realise to embrace that.

"It's not an ego thing, it's just I can put a smile on this kid's face just because I've walked in the door with a Titans shirt on or something associated with an NRL club.

"It's certainly rewarding as much for me as it is for the people I meet."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours 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.

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