The 2016 John Eales Medal is just one day away, so we've gone through all the major awards and picked out our front runners to take home the gongs.
For the first time in history, rugby.com.au will broadcast the event live from 6:45PM AEDT, with all the red carpet, player interviews and latest news from the event.
John Eales Medal
Genia rediscovered some of his career-best form in the back half of this year, returning from a knee injury a seemingly new player. The scrumhalf led the way in the Rugby Championship for the Wallabies, before returning to Stade Francais.
The 28-year-old was also one of the steadying influences in the World Cup last year, combining with Bernard Foley in the halves. The only thing that might hurt his chances of winning is his absence from June’s England Series.
Michael Hooper has been a standout for the Wallabies in the past year and is one of the red-hot favourites to claim the John Eales Medal. The 24-year-old already has one, having claimed the award in 2013, and would lay claim to being the most consistent Wallaby of recent times. Hooper is one of the few players to play pretty much 80 minutes in every Test. In June’s 3-0 loss to England, Hooper was man of the match twice and that form ran into the Rugby Championship as well. He will be tough to beat.
Bernard Foley has come under fire in a tough year, so it’s easy to forget that he was among the best Wallabies in their run to a World Cup final in 2015. Foley’s performance against England at Twickenham was one of the best individual outings of all time, the pinnacle of looked the making of the flyhalf on the international stage. The second half of the 12-month voting period may have cost him the chance at the gong, but he’ll be in the mix.
As has been the story with much of Pocock’s career, injuries have seriously curbed his chances of being the clear frontrunner for rugby’s highest honour. Pocock had a mammoth World Cup campaign, that pushed him to the brink of the World Rugby Player of the Year. A broken cheekbone and a broken hand, though, have cost him a chance to play in five of Australia’s 10 Tests this season. He has been influential every time he’s played, though, so he surely won’t be far off the pace.
Previous #JEM Winners
2002 George Smith
2003 Phil Waugh
2004 David Lyons
2005 Jeremy Paul
2006 Chris Latham
2007 Nathan Sharpe
2008 George Smith
2009 Matt Giteau
2010 David Pocock
2011 Kurtley Beale
2012 Nathan Sharpe
2013 Michael Hooper
2014 Israel Folau
2015 Israel Folau
Wallabies Rookie of the Year
Haylett-Petty is the only Wallabies debutant who has featured in every Test this season, making him an obvious leader for this gong. The 27-year-old had a superb England series, before a dip in the first Bledisloe, but he returned to that early season form in the latter half of the Rugby Championship, tightening up his defence and settling into wing a bit more.
Kerevi had a simmering start to his Wallabies career but that turned into a full-blown boil in recent matches, with the outside centre turning up the heat. The 23-year-old was the Wallabies’ best in their clash against Argentina and the sight of him hobbling around at Eden Park last weekend was devastating for him after the progress he has made.
Super Rugby Player of the Year
After a slow start, Hooper led the way for the Waratahs as they went a win short of qualifying for the Super Rugby finals. The NSW skipper had some critics early on but he had them all eating their words by the end of the year.
It was his Super Rugby season that made Kerevi irresistible for Michael Cheika when picking the Wallabies squads. A broken hand hampered the back end of his Super Rugby year but he was immense aside from that. The 23-year-old didn’t enjoy the team success he might’ve liked but individually 2016 was a sensational year.
Super Rugby Rookie of the Year
Hodge has been the revelation of the 2016 Super Rugby season, thrown into the deep end at the Rebels and managing to take everything in his stride. He played almost every position in the backline as Melbourne was torn apart by injuries.
Making your Super Rugby debut is daunting enough, but replacing one of the world’s best players to do it? That’s a whole different kettle of fish. Kellaway stepped up into the Waratahs’ fullback role and became one of the side’s most consistent players. The 21-year-old could be a dark horse for this award.
Sevens Player of the Year
Caslick was the standout during the Olympics, a tournament that propelled her into the world rugby spotlight, and was one of the leading lights in a World Champion side. Armed with an incredible ability to read the game, Caslick has made her stamp on international rugby sevens this year, for her toughness and deftness.
Parry is a hard worker and her influence over the ball in games singlehandedly turned the momentum on some occasions. Stepped up into the captaincy in the absence of Sharni Williams early in the season and led the team to three consecutive World Series tournament wins.
Men’s Sevens Player of the Year
Hutchison had a dream debut in 2015-16 for the Sevens, leading the try scoring tally and showing composure in his rookie season. The youngster has some serious pace and there are plenty of strong finishes that he can add to his highlight reel for the season. Was named the World Rugby Sevens rookie of the year, so would certainly be in contention to sit at the top of the domestic leaderboard.
Holland has had a horrific run with injury but showed some of his best form when he did play. The extra motivation of having Quade Cooper come in and compete for the playmaking spot pushed Holland to a new level, with an exceptional Sydney Sevens tournament proof of that. May not have played enough to win the award, but was among the best all season.
Women’s XVs Player of the Year
Ash Hewson was appointed Wallaroos captain this season and was a standout in the team’s two-Test series against New Zealand. The flyhalf led Sydney Uni to another national championship earlier this year, staking her claim as one of the best in the country. A smart playmaker who has become a stalwart of the Australian side.
Another of the Wallaroos’ best performers and most experienced players, Gray had a strong nationals campaign. The back rower has been effective in the lineout as well as in general play and would be among the contenders for the country’s best of the year.
NRC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Sydney Rays centre has been one of the revelations of the 2016 NRC, after a superb stint in the domestic competition. Already locked up by the Waratahs, Simone will be closely watched in his debut Super Rugby season in 2017. Was a Premiership player with Norths in the Shute Shield this season as well, under Rays coach Simon Cron. The 21-year-old is certainly among the favourites for the highest NRC honour.
The NSW Country Eagles halfback has been in the conversation for a while, but certainly had a breakthrough eight weeks in this year's competition. Gordon is already a member of the Waratahs Exetended Player Squad but has propelled himself into the thick of the Super Rugby conversation. Gordon, 23, notched nine tries in as many games for the Eagles this season.
The 2016 John Eales Meadal will be live streamed on rugby.com.au from 6:45pm AEDT on Thursday night.