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After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.

The Greg Growden Medal
Scott Higginbotham is a rebel with a cause
Greg Growden
March 3, 2014

No prizes for guessing Melbourne Rebels and New South Wales Waratahs players feature prominently among the votes this week. And there are fewer prizes still for guessing that Scott Higginbotham topped the pops in week two of the count; we're going to celebrate long and loud any time a back-row forward displays the deft kicking skills of Dan Carter to set up a try while also showing the attributes and game needed more obviously from a No.8.

Higginbotham also showed tremendous leadership as the Rebels showed Melbourne finally had a team that could be a genuine contender, and we're sure he'll figure prominently throughout the Greg Growden Medal count. Wallabies fans will certainly hope he remains fit after the shoulder injury that cruelled his season last year; but he is no walk-up start for the gold No.8 jumper as Waratahs counterpart Wycliff Palu showed against Queensland Reds that he too is a top performer.

Palu claimed his second vote of the season with another damaging performance, and he now tops the medal count. Ben McCalman, for Western Force against the Brumbies, showed further how Australia is well served with No.8s even though the Test incumbent, and captain, Ben Mowen, is heading overseas after the Super Rugby season.

Reds forwards Liam Gill and James Horwill, like Palu, claimed their second score of the count, while Luke Jones, Scott Fardy and Sam Carter showed that Ewen McKenzie will have plenty of second-row options when he sits down to pick his squads later in the year. Luke Burgess, too, showed with his impressive all-round performance in his first competitive start for the Rebels that McKenzie has another option for scrum-half after Will Genia, Nick Phipps and Nic White.

Jacques Potgieter is ineligible for Wallabies selection, but he displayed against the Reds all the attributes for which Tahs coach Michael Cheika made a play, and he is going to be a key contributor for New South Wales as they seek to claim their maiden title. Certainly the Bulls will be wondering, if they weren't already, why they let him leave for Sydney via Japan.

(The tables above shows the season's standings in the Greg Growden Medal count; click the tabs to see who scored how many points in each round of the season.)


Join us each week to see Greg's verdict on the Australian-based players who are / are not performing. We'll respond to all comment and reasoned discussion either in comments at the foot of the story, or on Twitter using the hashtag #GregGrowdenMedal.

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