Electrifying Koroibete dashes to Eales Medal
MARIKA Koroibete has become the first winger to win the John Eales Medal for being voted as the best Wallabies player by his teammates.
The former NRL flyer polled 200 votes during the 2019 season, 50 more than runner-up Samu Kerevi.
Koroibete is just the fifth back to claim the medal in its 17-year history, joining fullbacks Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Chris Latham, and playmaker Matt Giteau.
A number of starring performances at the World Cup in Japan saw Koroibete leapfrog Kerevi, who had started the Test season strongly during The Rugby Championship.
The 27-year-old Melbourne Rebels winger signed a new two-year deal with Australian rugby in September, ensuring he will remain here until the end of 2021 despite fielding offers from European clubs.
Ironically, Koroibete has claimed the Eales medal in the same year Folau — also a former NRL star for Melbourne Storm — was sacked by RA due to social media posts in April.
Kerevi was awarded Australia’s Super Rugby player of the year for his immense performances for Queensland.
The Wallabies were hammered by England in the quarter-finals at the World Cup, leading coach Michael Cheika to stand down as coach and then expose friction between himself and RA executives Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne. The bitter end to the 2019 Wallabies campaign did not diminish the celebrations of other award winners, including Wallaroos player of the year Grace Hamilton, men’s Sevens player of the year Maurice Longbottom, and women’s Sevens player of the year Charlotte Caslick.
Australian under-20s captain Fraser McReight, who led his side to the final of the junior World Cup, won his second successive under-20s player of the year award.