Super Rugby


George Smith wins 2017 Pilecki Medal

St.George Queensland Reds flanker George Smith has been named the 2017 Pilecki Medal winner for players’ player of the year.

The 37-year-old claimed the title following his first season back in Super Rugby since 2013. Voted on by his Reds’ teammates, Smith became Queensland Representative Number 1307 when he ran on in the side’s opening match of the season and went on to play in every match in 2017, starting at Number 7 in all but one.

Smith’s seamless return to Super Rugby was remarkable given his three-year absence from the competition. 

Smith tallied 278 votes from his peers, beating teammates Scott Higginbotham (248) and Karmichael Hunt (198) for the coveted award. 

Smith was unable to accept the award in person, announced at today’s sold out QRU Long Lunch, as he is currently playing for Suntory Sungoliath in Japan’s Top League – but said he was honoured to be voted the Reds’ best player in 2017.

“I’m extremely humbled to receive the Pilecki Medal. Knowing the history of Stan and those that have won the award previously, it’s a really proud moment for me,” he said.

“There’ve been some outstanding performances this year from numerous players within our team, so to receive this accolade from my peers makes it even more special.”

Legendary Queensland prop Stan Pilecki, the state’s first centurion, who the award was named after, said: “I think he’s a great choice because he comes from both schools, the old school and the new school and I think the new school have learnt a lot from him. Great choice.”

The accolade is one of many throughout a remarkable 18-year career, in which Smith has also claimed the Brett Robinson Medal for Brumbies players’ player an incredible 10 times in 12 seasons, as well as the John Eales Medal for Wallabies players’ player in 2002 and 2008.

Fellow Reds’ openside flanker Michael Gunn was also recognised at the QRU Long Lunch for winning the Alec Evans Medal for Queensland Premier Rugby Player of the Year, based on his standout performances for Easts throughout the year. 

Easts ultimately fell short of the Queensland Premier Rugby finals but Gunn’s energy never wavered. The Alec Evans is his third piece of Queensland Premier Rugby silverware after claiming the Hospital Cup and Tony Shaw Medal for player of the grand final in 2013.

The award is based on ‘3, 2, 1’ votes by referees following each Premier Grade match and Gunn topped the 2017 count, playing in 13 of the Tigers’ 16 fixtures.

Shannon Parry, a panellist at the event, was announced as Queensland’s Women’s Player of the Year for her peerless contributions to the game in both the Sevens and 15s formats. 

In addition to her role in Australia’s Olympic Gold Medal at the 2016 Rio Games, Parry captained the Australian Women’s Sevens on the World Series, as well as leading Australia at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. She also featured for club side Redlands Mudcrabs during their run to this year’s Brisbane Premiership Women’s grand final.

The St.George Queensland Volunteer of the Year Award for the Norbert Byrne Trophy was also recognised at the event, presented to Peter Kurtz from Biloela Rugby Club/Capricornia Rugby in Central Queensland. 

Over the past two years, Kurtz has played a major role in ensuring Rugby is thriving in the region, as both a coach and administrator – spending countless hours training teams, maintaining the grounds, driving buses and administering the current senior competition in conjunction with the QRU, all while running his own business.

The Trophy was established in 2004 to honour and acknowledge exceptional effort or achievement in any facet of administration, promotion, playing or refereeing of rugby union. Byrne was widely regarded as one of the foremost administrative architects of the restoration of Queensland as a Rugby force in the 1970s. As QRU’s longest-serving Chairman, he fulfilled the role from 1970 to 1988.  

The ‘QRU Long Lunch – Celebrating Rugby in Queensland’ was held at Brisbane’s Royal International Convention Centre on Friday 20 October. 

The event featured a series of panellists including Australia’s Rugby World Cup-winning coach Rod Macqueen, Wallabies World Cup-winners Nick Farr-Jones, Anthony Herbert and Peter Slattery, former Wallabies and Queensland representatives Tony Shaw and Sam Cordingley, former All Black Jeff Wilson, Crusaders’ 2017 Super Rugby-winning head coach Scott Robertson, as well as current Reds and Wallabies representative Stephen Moore and current Australian Women’s player Shannon Parry. 

It was hosted by Fox Sports Rugby’s Nick McArdle and former Wallaby Adam Freier.  

Award winners
Pilecki Medal – George Smith
Alec Evans Medal – Michael Gunn
Queensland Women’s Player of the Year – Shannon Parry
St.George Queensland Volunteer of the Year for Norbert Byrne Trophy – Peter Kurtz

2017 Pilecki Medal Top 10
George Smith (278 votes)
Scott Higginbotham (248 votes)
Karmichael Hunt (198 votes)
Samu Kerevi (197 votes)
Duncan Paia’aua (192 votes)
Eto Nabuli (103 votes)
Rob Simmons (92 votes)
Adam Korczyk (87 votes)
Taniela Tupou (85 votes)
James Tuttle (80 votes)

Pilecki Medal History
2017 George Smith (278 votes)
2016 Liam Gill (282 votes)
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

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