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Qantas Wallabies and NSW Waratahs flanker, Michael Hooper has been crowned the 2013 John Eales Medallist and Australia’s Choice Qantas Wallaby of the Year in Sydney, capping off a string of impressive performances and accolades in Australian Rugby.
The 22-year-old added one of Australian Rugby’s most prestigious awards to his collection, which includes the Super Rugby Player of the Year and Castrol EDGE Strongest Performer Award in 2013; Qantas Wallabies Rookie of the Year in 2012; and Under 20s Player of the Year in 2011.
Hooper received 297 votes from his peers, more than 100 votes ahead of his nearest rivals, Wycliff Palu on 185 votes and Israel Folau on 177. Adam Ashley-Cooper and Christian Leali’ifano completed the top five with 131 and 102 votes respectively.
The John Eales Medal, named after the former Wallaby captain, comes just over a year after Hooper made his Test debut against Scotland, during the match played in cyclonic conditions in Newcastle, and follows his third placing for the John Eales Medal in 2012.
Hooper polled in all but one of the 14 Tests during the voting period from last year’s Spring Tour to the third Bledisloe Test last weekend.
Hooper becomes the fourth flanker to win the John Eales Medal, behind George Smith (2002 and 2008), Phil Waugh (2003) and David Pocock (2010).
Australian Rugby fans also voted Hooper Australia’s Choice Wallaby of the Year, ahead of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau.
Hooper’s NSW Waratahs’ teammate, Israel Folau was named Qantas Wallabies Rookie of the Year, following a debut season that saw him score two tries in his first match in the opening Test against the British & Irish Lions, and a further five tries since.
Queensland’s Will Genia was awarded Try of the Year for the impressive ball he set up for Folau that earned the Qantas Wallabies crucial points during the first Test against The British & Irish Lions.
Con Foley won the Qantas Men’s Seven’s Player of the Year Award and the Shawn Mackay Award Qantas Sevens Player of the Year, which recognises the men’s or women’s Sevens player who demonstrates a high level of leadership, sportsmanship and commitment to the National Sevens program.
Female Sevens player Sharni Williams repeated her performance in 2010 by winning the Women’s Player of the Year, while Steve Walsh was named National Referee of the Year and Queensland’s Curtis Browning the Under 20s Player of the Year.
The long-standing commitment to Rugby of orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Peter Myers was recognised through the Joe French Award, which is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to Rugby in Australia.
Rugby Administrator Kerry Brady won the Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby Award for her work with Sydney and NSW Junior Rugby Union and for consistently upholding the spirit and ethos of Australian Rugby.
Volunteers were also recognised, with Micky Wilson from South Australia winning National Volunteer of the Year for his contribution to Rugby at club and State levels for the past 22 years, while the ACT’s Trevor Hancock was crowned the 2013 Qantas Wallabies Ultimate Fan.
The evening also acknowledged the 2013 Wallaby Hall of Fame inductees: former Wallabies Captain and one of Australia’s greatest goal kickers, Michael Lynagh; Charlie Eastes, a man who many consider to be the greatest winger in Australian Rugby history, and Bill Cerutti who, as a prop, played 21 Tests from 1928 to 1937 and scored three tries from the front row.
2013 John Eales Medal – full list of award winners:
· 2013 John Eales Medal: Michael Hooper, NSW
· Australia’s Choice – Qantas Wallaby of the Year: Michael Hooper, NSW
· Try of the Year: Will Genia, QLD
· Rookie of the Year: Israel Folau, NSW
· Shawn Mackay Award – Qantas Sevens Player of the Year: Con Foley, QLD
· Qantas Men’s Sevens Player of the Year: Con Foley, QLD
· Women’s Player of the Year: Sharni Williams, ACT
· Joe French Award: Dr Peter Myers, QLD
· Under 20s Player of the Year: Curtis Browning, QLD
· Nick-Farr Jones Spirit of Rugby Award: Kerry Brady, NSW
· Roger Vanderfield Award – Referee of the Year: Steve Walsh, ARU
· Volunteer of the Year: Micky Wilson, SA
· 2013 Qantas Wallabies Ultimate Fan: Trevor Hancock, ACT
2013 John Eales Medal - final top ten:
1. Michael Hooper
2. Wycliff Palu
3. Israel Folau
4. Adam Ashley-Cooper
5. Christian Leali’ifano
6. Scott Fardy
7. Will Genia
8. Stephen Moore
8. Tevita Kuridrani
9. James Slipper
10. Quade Cooper
John Eales Medal - past winners: