Michael Hooper named player of the year
August 8, 2013
Michael Hooper ran clean away from his rivals © Getty Images
Behind The Votes
Michael Hooper has been named Australia's Super Rugby Player of the Year.
Jake White and the Brumbies, meanwhile, were named the Coach of the Year and Team of the Year respectively after they secured top spot in the Australian Conference and progressing to final in which they lost to the Chiefs.
Rod Davies was awarded the Try of the Year after capping an incredible length-of-the-field effort for Queensland Reds against the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium in round 10, the hosts running the ball from their five-metre line in a breakout move featuring Quade Cooper, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Digby Ioane before Will Genia put in a well-weighted cross-field grubber kick to the winger Rod Davies who finished off an incredible 20 seconds of rugby.
Hooper received 21 votes to win the players' award, four more than his two nearest challengers, George Smith and 2011 and 2012 Australian Super Rugby player of the year Genia. He is the first New South Wales Waratahs player to claim the award since Phil Waugh was crowned in 2001.
"Personally, I'm stoked," Hooper said. "We obviously came up short for the Waratahs but put in some good performances. "We did toil away at the start of the season and then start to get some dividends around the middle of the season, but we've got to move on with the job next year."
Hooper polled votes in nine rounds of the competition, including four man-of-the-match performances. Trailing Smith into the final rounds of the season, he polled a man-of-the-match three points against the Brumbies in round 14 to pull within one point of the brumbies flanker before claiming top spot with another three points against the Crusaders in round 16. Hooper ensured the title was his with a two-point performance against Queensland Reds in the final round of the season.
Smith and Genia each polled votes in six matches with five man-of-the-match performances.
James O'Connor finished the season with 16 points after polling in eight matches, including two man-of-the-match efforts, while Israel Folau tallied15 points in his first season of Super Rugby after two years in the AFL following a successful career in rugby league. Folau polled votes in six matches, including man-of-the-match performances against Western Force in round seven, the Chiefs in round 10, and the Southern Kings in round 12.
Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver, who presented Michael Hooper and Israel Folau with their trophies at the Intercontinental Hotel this morning, congratulated all of the award winners and praised all five Australian franchises for their efforts in 2013.
"The results that our Australian teams achieved in 2013 are the best that we have seen under the five-team, three-conference format," Pulver said. "This year, our five Super Rugby sides won a collective 37 matches, opposed to 32 last year and 35 in 2011. In terms of the final ladder position of our Australian teams there was improvement across the board from 2012 to 2013. All of our sides finished higher overall on the Super Rugby ladder than they did last year, which is a great effort.These are fantastic results that I am sure all of the sides will continue to build on in 2014."
Brett McKay named Michael Hooper as the openside side flanker in our ESPNscrum Super Rugby Team of the Year: who else made the cut?
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