Elec­tri­fy­ing Koroi­bete dashes to Eales Medal

Mercury (Hobart) - - RUGBY - JAMIE PANDARAM

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.

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