Venture to any rugby league ground across the country and you'll notice the distinctive yellow, blue and orange safety vests worn by people helping athletes on the field.
The presence of qualified League Safe personnel and first aid, or Sports Trainer, officers are compulsory across all levels of the sport and the man responsible for implementing those essential roles is being honoured with an Order of Australia Medal this Australia Day.
Uralla's John O'Halloran was involved with rugby league for decades and his impact will live on for years to come.
In the 1990s, after seeing people attempt to help injured players on the field with little or no expertise in the area, O'Halloran saw a need to provide education to officials to cover that area.
"My take on that is there were a lot of really good, well-meaning people who ran out to attend an injured player on the field of play and probably didn't have a great deal of training," he said.
"And that worried me a little bit because litigation was starting to pop in.
"I just saw a need for a little bit more education for our trainers and particularly identification."
A former school teacher, O'Halloran began to draw up a program to address the absence of officials educated in the treatment of injuries on the field and implemented it in the Group 19 competition.
He also introduced hi-visibility blue, yellow and orange vests to identify those with the training on game days.
"It gave them a little bit of knowledge to identify someone who may or may not need attention from the accredited sports trainer," O'Halloran said.
"That covered every aspect of the game, particularly player welfare."
He continued to develop and alter the program before Country Rugby League and Australian Rugby League caught on and implemented the Sports Trainer and League Safe courses across Australia, and even internationally.
"I have been to every state and territory, lecturing myself, and been to Fiji and done a course there because of the passion for rugby league, and I took those to the World Cup," he said.
To this day, the presence of a qualified League Safe official and Sports Trainer, or First Aid Officer, is compulsory at all rugby league matches from juniors through to seniors.
While the implementation of these programs is O'Halloran's proudest achievement, the OAM recognises his contribution to society across a variety of areas.
He held various roles within his chosen sport including Regional Development Officer, Trainer for different representative teams, a lecturer in Trainers' courses across all levels of rugby league, a course presenter for Sports Medicine Australia, and more.
O'Halloran was also a teacher at Werris Creek Public School and Uralla Central School and is a former president of Uralla Lions Club.
Other Honours List recipients
Former senator Sandy MacDonald from Wallabadah received the Member Of The Order Of Australia (AM) for significant service to the people and Parliament of Australia, and to public administration.
Other New England recipients of the Medal Of The Order Of Australia (OAM) include Edwina Sharrock from Tamworth for service to community health and Les Parsons from Inverell, for service to the community of Inverell, and to local government.
Kellys Plains resident Chris Hancock has been awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to education and on-line research networks, and to Australia-USA relations.
A Public Service Medal went to Charles McLaughlin from Glen Innes for his outstanding public service to local government in New South Wales, particularly during the emergency response to the 2019 bushfires.