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St.George Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill has won the Pilecki Medal for players’ player at the 2015 Reds Gala Ball.
This is the first time Gill has claimed the coveted award, which is voted on a 3-2-1 basis by the players following each game of the season. The Pilecki Medal is named after Queensland prop Stan Pilecki, who earned 122 caps during his playing career.
Gill had a remarkable season, featuring in all but one of the Reds’ games. Statistically, he was one of the most impressive flankers in Super Rugby, with the most turnovers forced (30), and most ruck involvements (563). He also made the second most tackles (175), runs (116) and runs over the gain line (46) of any Reds player.
In a year where injuries forced the Reds to use 42 different players, Gill’s consistency and impact throughout the season was significant and is reflected in how strongly he led the Pilecki votes.
Gill dominated the votes, with 420 in total, followed by Greg Holmes (184) and James Hanson (179).
Reds head coach Richard Graham praised Gill for his contributions throughout the season, which led to the dominant Pilecki tally.
“We’re not surprised by the result. Liam had an outstanding season and it was without doubt his most consistent. His influence around the breakdown throughout Super Rugby was enormous, however he has continued to develop other aspects of his game away from the tackle such as his lineout jumping and his catch pass skills. The fantastic thing for the Reds is that he still has a huge amount of improvement left in him,” Graham said.
Holmes’ had a resurgent season, despite missing five games due to injury, and was rewarded for his form with a return to the Wallabies jersey for the first time since 2007. After starting the season as reserve hooker, Hanson finished as the side’s Number 1 rake after injury to Saia Fainga’a left the door open for him to start in 10 of his 16 games.
Nick Frisby was named the Reds Most Improved Player following a season which saw the scrumhalf wear the starting flyhalf jersey seven times. Now in his fourth year with the Reds, Frisby is still just 22 years old but has built up invaluable experience ahead of the 2016 season.
“Nick was fantastic for the Reds in a really difficult year,” Graham said.
“His improvement not only as a footballer but in a very challenging role as the team’s flyhalf was a credit to him. He approached the position with assurance and the fact that his teammates displayed so much confidence in him is testament to his character. With another full National Rugby Championship program in front of him, we’re really looking forward to seeing him in his natural position and how much further he can improve.”
First-year Reds prop Sam Talakai was named the 2015 Rising Rugby Star. Talakai was a standout for Brisbane City in the 2014 NRC and that form transferred to significant game time for the Reds in just his first year of Super Rugby. Talakai made his debut in the opening round of the 2015 season and featured in all but two games at tighthead prop.
“Sam has had a very good first season with the Reds. His improvement in the scrum was substantial and he formed part of a very good forward pack,” Graham said.
“He will take a lot of confidence from his development this year and is continuing to work hard to improve the other aspects of tight five play. He will be able to build on that footballing ability throughout the NRC.”
Reds centre Samu Kerevi has claimed the Spirit of the Reds award – which is voted on by Queensland Rugby staff based on both the on and off field contributions of the player.
Kerevi had a breakout year in 2015, featuring in 14 games for the Reds and establishing himself as one of the key attacking threats in the side – leading the Reds in run metres (110), tackle busts (42), linebreaks (13) and tries (six). His performances throughout Super Rugby were recognised with inclusion in the Wallabies extended training squad for their pre-Rugby Championship camp on the Sunshine Coast.
His contributions off the field were as important, with Queensland Rugby staff recognising him as one of the more conscientious and enthusiastic members of the playing group.
“We have seen good improvements in Samu’s game this season and he is continuing to work hard on specific areas we have identified. His inclusion in the initial Wallabies training squad shows how far he has come in a short space of time,” Graham said.
Prop Sef Fa’agase, who made his debut in 2015 and signed a two-year contract to continue his career in Queensland, received the Reds Wider Training Squad award for his contributions this year.
“Sef came to us two seasons ago looking for an opportunity. Throughout that time he has worked very hard to be the best he can be. Whilst he still has a lot of work to do, we have seen big improvements in not only his set piece play but also his general play,” Graham said.
Prop Ben Daley has claimed the People’s Choice award – voted on by Reds members and fans on social media and at www.redsrugby.com.au.
Daley had a difficult season marred by injury, but received high praise for his work off the field as he successfully launched his own charitable initiative ‘Be Great. Do Good.’ Daley raised awareness and funds for 16 charities throughout the season with the creation of unique headgear in support of each cause.
The Reds Gala Ball is also an opportunity to celebrate grassroots Rugby, with participants and volunteers alike recognised.
Bond University captain Josh Fuimaono claimed the Alec Evans Medal for Queensland Premier Rugby Player of the Year. The award is based on 3, 2, 1 votes by referees following each Premier Rugby match. At the age of 31, Fuimaono is one of Bond’s most experienced campaigners and had a stellar year with the Gold Coast side.
Reds flanker Adam Korczyk was named Under 20 Player of the Year after making his Super Rugby debut during the 2015 season. He was also named Player of the Tournament at the 2015 National Under-20s Championships and represented the Australian Under 20s in Italy.
Queensland Rugby’s Women’s Player of the Year was named Australian Sevens representative Charlotte Caslick.
A product of Brisbane State High and Wests Bulldogs Rugby Club, Caslick has excelled since bursting onto the international Women’s Sevens circuit for Australia in 2013. This year saw Caslick named in World Rugby's 2014/15 Team of the Season after another stellar campaign and she was also one of four players nominated for the 2015 World Sevens Player of the Year.
Laura Waldie took out the Youth Girls Player of the Year award following an impressive season. The former Youth Olympics Gold Medallist signed a contract with the Australian Women’s Sevens squad in 2015 and was also part of the Silver-Medal winning Australian Women’s Sevens side which competed at the Pacific Games held in Papua New Guinea.
The Volunteer of the Year award was won by Chari Mouton, who has volunteered as the physiotherapist for both the Queensland Women’s Sevens and Women’s XV sides for more than seven years. She has also been involved with the Brisbane State High First XV side, where she has donated her time and dedication to the prevention and management of player injuries since 2013. Mouton has also previously worked with the Sunnybank Rugby Club Women’s team.
2015 Reds Gala Ball Award Winners
Pilecki Medal: Liam Gill
People’s Choice: Ben Daley
Most Improved: Nick Frisby
Rising Rugby Star: Sam Talakai
Spirit of the Reds: Samu Kerevi
Wider Training Squad Player of the Year: Sef Fa’agase
Alec Evans Medal – Queensland Premier Rugby: Josh Fuimaono
Under 20 Player of the Year: Adam Korczyk
Women’s Player of the Year: Charlotte Caslick
Youth Girls Player of the Year: Laura Waldie
Volunteer of the Year: Chari Mouton
2015 Pilecki Medal Top 10
Liam Gill - 420
Greg Holmes – 184
James Hanson – 179
Samu Kerevi – 167
Adam Thomson – 160
Will Genia – 144
Jake Schatz – 101
James Slipper – 88
Nick Frisby – 86
Chris Feauai-Sautia - 71
Pilecki Medal History
2015 Liam Gill (420 votes)
2014 James Slipper (239 votes)
2013 Jake Schatz (269 votes)
2012 James Slipper (272 votes)
2011 Will Genia (263 votes)
2010 Will Genia (209 votes)
2009 Digby Ioane (253 votes)
2008 David Croft (195 votes)
2007 David Croft (188 votes)
2006 Rodney Blake (186 votes)
2005 Nathan Sharpe
2004 Chris Latham
2003 Julian Huxley
2002 Chris Latham
2001 Toutai Kefu
2000 Chris Latham
1999 Chris Latham
1998 Daniel Herbert
1997 John Eales
1996 Jason Little
1995 Jason Little
1994 Matthew Pini
1993 Rod McCall
1992 Peter Slattery
16 FEBRUARY 2019