With the test season now upon us, the timing is perfect for us to come up with our Green and Gold Rugby Australian Super 14 Player of the Year Award. Now that’s a difficult task. Four teams each with about 30 odd players used. So that’s about 120 players you need to consider!! But no. We here at G&GR want to make it easy on you….or do we???
If you’ve been following the site over the last week or so you will know that we’ve named our S14 Player of the Year from each of the Australian sides. You can catch it all for the Reds , here for the Force , here for the Brumbies or here for the Tahs .
We’ll acknowledge that even those selections alone are a cause of conjecture. But we’re moving on. And so should you, because it’s time to vote. Which of our four excellent candidates is your choice as the stand out player amongst the Aussie sides? Your options are:
Will Genia from the Queensland Reds.
Sanchez was an inspiration for the Reds this year. It was all against him early. He sky rocketed from nowhere into the Wallabies to being acclaimed by the UK press as one of the best players in the world. How’s that for under pressure to perform? In the end this was his first season as the undoubted #1 Reds scrumhalf too, and after a couple if injury impacted years he was keen to perform. Then all of a sudden he has the captaincy thrust upon after the incumbent, James Horwill, was injured in the second game of the season.
But Genia’s form never faulted. Not only did his composure remain whilst skipper, but his attacking danger never diminished. Partnering with the mercurial Quade Cooper provided the Reds with a double barrel attacking force and Genia was at the heart of it all. From the very first match of the season, against the Waratahs, he grabbed the attention of our forum members securing his first man of the match award. He backed up again in Round 3 against the Blues and then again against the Cheetahs in Round 7. He stood up tallest (metaphorically obviously) against the best in the business – Fourie du Preez, and snagged another MOM vote when the Reds downed the mighty Bulls. Then again the next week, against the Stormers, he was monumental. Whilst his team was losing to, he never gave up and picked up another Best on Ground v the Canes in the second last round.
Statistical Support: 19 line breaks for the season, which was equal with Cooper as the highest of the Aussies, and an average of just over 40 run metres a game put him head and shoulders above (for once) any other Aussie scrumhalf in the comp.
Tatafu Polota-Nau from the New South Wales Waratahs
TPN was just a monster for the Tahs this year. There were times he resembled nothing short of a human wrecking ball. Not only was it through his almost iconic grass cutting tackles, but with his running ball in hand. He must be one of the more fearsome forwards out there, when either side has the ball. But we knew about that. We’ve seen it since he first really came on to the scene some years ago now. There were three things, in my mind, that changed for the big Taf in season 2010.
First of all was his line-out throwing. Whilst he wasn’t perfect he never had the outrageous clangers he has pulled out in the past way too often. Secondly, as an extension of this, was his consistency. Game after game he stood up and stood out! He battled through injury, only missing one game, cause he knew the Tahs needed him. It would seem his country may be paying for it now, but you can’t fault the toughness of the man. Finally, it’s his leadership. Now this is an aspect that has never been called into questions. Many pundits have proclaimed him a future Tah and even Wallaby captain. But this was the season it really showed. His play has been a lot more refined, without losing its robustness. His best season yet.
Man of the Match performances against the Reds (Rnd 1), the Sharks (Rnd 4), the Force (Rnd 6), the Blues (Rnd 7) and the Stormers in the semi-final proved him no flat track bully as he stood up in the games that counted.
Statistical Support: Well I have pointed out Genia’s 40 odd run metres, than Taf’s average of 41.75m per game is just exceptional. Compare it with other front rowers in the game (even Huia Edmonds) it is an phenomenal achievement.
Rocky Elsom from the ACT Brumbies
Big things were expected from big Rock in his return to Super Rugby. Coming from up norf when he was proclaimed, amongst other things, the best player in the game, the average punter was excited to have him ‘home’. He missed his first game through injury, but was straight into it in second round against the imposing Bulls pack. Elsom got through a pile of work in 2010 and was closely watched by the opposition. Whilst he didn’t enjoy the wide running game he got to partake in in Ireland, he never shirked his work load.
With plenty of wide runners in the Brumby outfit, Rocky based his game around work in tight and excelled with his bulk and aggression. After his Bulls Man of the Match effort, he got another against the Blues in Round 6 and another after the bye in Round 9 against the Cheetahs. Despite only three MOM performances, his consistency lead to a bucket load of minor placings, and were enough to pick up the Brumby gong for the year.
Statistical Support: Rocky’s workload was where it’s at. Almost 11 tackles a game, about 9 ball carries (for 55m per game) and 18 rucks hit. It was often the unseen stuff that Rocky did so well.
James O’Connor from the Western Force
Can I just take this opportunity to remind you all of something? James O’Connor is still only a teenage. That’s right. After his third season of Super Rugby he is only still just 19. I say this because anyone who watched him play this season could have been ignorant to this fact. So assured, so brilliant, was young JOC’s form this year that he could’ve passed as a grizzled veteran.
Now, let’s get this out there early. Matty Hodgson’s form this year has been brilliant. He stood up when his experienced backrow cohorts in Brown and Pocock were injured and carried the load for a badly misfiring team. But whilst Hodgo was making the tackles and cleaning up, JOC was just oozing class at the back. Or in the middle. Or wherever he was picked. His ability to mix his game up is the game play the belies his youth. He has probably the best kicking game of any Australian player, and is up there with our most dangerous ball-in-hand as well.
Like his Player of the Year competitors, JOC picked up points early and just kept on doing it. Man of the Match in the first game against the Brumbies was followed up with maximum points against the Highlanders and Blues (Rounds 10 and 11 respectively). In the end it was tight at the top to Hodgson, Pocock and skipper Nathan Sharpe, but few could deny JOC’s potency and assuredness from the back for the struggling Force.
Statistical Support: JOC’s 1489 run metres, ball in hand, was top class this season. It placed him third behind Quade Cooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper in terms of run metres. His 15 line breaks and 15 off loads in contact weren’t too shabby either.
So now it is over to you. Vote in the poll and then plead your case below in the comments.