Hooper 'simply the best'
NEWS: Michael Hooper will have his name etched onto the Matt Burke Cup for the sixth time.
The Waratahs and Wallabies captain topped the voting for the prestigious award at Monday’s 2019 New South Wales ceremony.
Hooper – who was also recognised for notching his 100th cap for New South Wales this season – was joined on the winners’ list by Karmichael Hunt and Rob Simmons as the Best Back and Best Forward respectively.
Hooper’s leadership on and off the field was exemplary as always, topping the league for tackles made (210) and scoring three tries and making nine line breaks in his 14 appearances.
Wallaroos captain, Grace Hamilton capped off a stellar season by taking out the Super W Player of the Year after putting together some incredible numbers in 2019.
The barnstorming No.8 found herself in the top ten of almost every key statistic in the competition and scored four tries, with one ultimately securing New South Wales their second Super W title.
Experienced fullback, Ash Hewson and Emily Chancellor were awarded Best Back and Best Forward in another unbeaten season for Matt Evrard’s side.
Arabella McKenzie impressed in her debut season and was named the Super W Rookie of the Year, while Lachlan Swinton collected the Chris Whitaker Medal after a break out season for the loose forward.
Junior Wallaby, Mark Nawaqanitawase was named the Dave Dennis Elite Youth Development Player of the Year after a meteoric rise from schoolboy rugby to the World Rugby U20 Championships in Argentina this year.
St Joseph’s first XV captain and Gen Blue prospect, Hugh Bockenham won the Matthew Street Shield for his performance at the National Schools Championships.
A range of volunteers, officials and players from community rugby were also recognised for their ongoing contribution to the game in New South Wales.
NSW Rugby CEO, Andrew Hore said that the evening was a celebration of rugby from the grassroots to the professional game.
“It’s not often you’re able to get everyone together in the one place to celebrate the things that make our game so great,” Hore said.
“We’ve seen some wonderful individuals recognised for their contribution to rugby in New South Wales and I can’t stress the importance of their work at the grassroots of our game – ensuring rugby is inclusive, accessible and continues to thrive.
“At a representative level, players like Michael [Hooper] and Grace [Hamilton] are worthy Player of the Year winners who we’re proud to have represented the New South Wales Waratahs.
“Tonight also reinforces the value of the investment we’ve made into our development with Lachlan [Swinton], Mark [Nawaqanitawase] and Hugh [Bockenham] all taking home awards – with each having taken a different journey through our player pathway.
“On a personal note, we also said goodbye to players and staff who have all had important roles to play in the growth of our organisation, I’d like to thank them for their service to New South Wales Rugby and wish them the very best in the future.”
New South Wales awards winners:
Volunteer of the Year (Youth) – Liam Rice, Bourke Rams.
Volunteer of the Year (Senior) – Steve Johnson, Southern Districts.
Young Community Match Official of the Year – Angus Cameron, Sydney North.
Community Match Official of the Year – Kate Thomson, Central Coast.
Spirit of Rugby: Girls Player of the Year – Irene Taylor, Eastwood.
Spirit of Rugby: Boys Player of the Year – Heath Lancaster, St Pauls College, Kempsey.
Matthew Street Shield – Hugh Bockenham, St Joseph’s College.
Dave Dennis Elite Youth Development Player of the Year – Mark Nawaqanitawase
Super W Rookie of the Year – Arabella McKenzie
Chris Whitaker Medal – Lachlan Swinton
Super W Best Back – Ash Hewson
Super W Best Forward – Emily Chancellor
Super Rugby Best Back – Karmichael Hunt
Super Rugby Best Forward – Rob Simmons
Super W Player of the Year – Grace Hamilton
Matt Burke Cup – Michael Hooper