NSW Waratahs Team Captain, Michael Hooper has once again broken Club records after winning his fourth consecutive Matthew Burke Cup Players’ Player Award at tonight’s NSW Waratahs Annual Gala Awards in Sydney.
Hooper remains as the player to win the award the most amount of times in the Club’s history after securing the highest amount of votes from his peers across the year for the fourth season in a row. The 24-year-old openside flanker finished with a total of 297 votes in 2016, 54 points ahead of Israel Folau, on 243 votes, who once again placed second in the tally.
Nick Phipps slipped in just behind in third place with 242 votes, while Kurtley Beale and Jed Holloway rounded out the top five with 158 and 112 points respectively, a solid achievement after both were ruled out for a majority of the season due to injury.
Hooper had another exemplary season as Captain this year, topping the stats amongst the Waratahs forwards for most linebreaks, fourth in carry metres and fourth highest tackles made as a forward.
His work rate and and consistency is astonishing, as once again this year he started in all 15 matches for the Waratahs, crossing for four tries and earning the Man of the Match in one of the Tahs’ season defining performances against the Stormers in round 10. Like last year, Hooper has played 80 minutes in all but two of his 65 matches for the Tahs since he joined the Club in 2013.
His efforts were also again recognised by the NSW Waratahs Members who voted him as the 2016 Member’s Choice for the second year in a row.
As the highest voted back in the Matthew Burke Cup tally, the 2016 Best Back went to Israel Folau again for a second year running.
It was a fitting acknowledgement for Folau who this year broke the record for most amount of tries by a NSW Waratahs player after pipping Lote Tuqiri’s previous record of 29. He also ran out for his 50th game for NSW and in Super Rugby.
After a triumphant return to the starting team in 2016, Jed Holloway received the title as Best Forward for the first time, as the highest voted forward in the voting. Holloway, who made his Waratahs debut in 2013, had a hugely successful year, making a name for himself as a powerful ball runner.
He broke records in a standout game in round four against the Highlanders, coming on as a replacement for Wycilff Palu. With a hat-trick of tries, Holloway crossed for the most individual five-pointers in a match as a replacement since 1882 and became the first Waratah forward to score three tries in a Super Rugby match since 1996.
The Chris Whitaker Aspiring Waratah Award, presented to the rookie who has shown the most promise during the season, went to Tom Robertson.
The country NSW born prop had an outstanding breakout year, crossing for his first try in his debut Super Rugby game and earning 13 caps, including two Man of the Match performances before being called up into the Wallabies squad. He was also the only debutant to finish within the top 10 of the Matthew Burke Cup voting.
Nick Phipps was announced the winner of the Waratah Medal for on and off field excellence after stepping up into the Waratahs leadership group this year.
Phipps was another Waratah who notched his 50th Super Rugby match this year all whilst juggling a Masters in International Business. He was also the winner of the Men’s Health Celebrity Man, an award recognising those who excel in balancing all life’s elements earlier in the year.
NSW Waratahs 2016 supplementary squad member, Ryan McCauley was the inaugural winner of the David Dennis NSW Under 20s Player of the Year after his impressive performances in both the NSW and Australian Under 20s. The new award, named after NSW centurion and well-respect leader, Dave Dennis, recognises the player that has not only performed the best on field but also exuded the NSW Waratahs values of leadership, respect, mateship and hard work across the year.
The Annual Gala Awards night also celebrated key milestones amongst the team in 2016, acknowledging the three NSW players, Dean Mumm, Dave Dennis and Rob Horne, who reached their 100th NSW and Super Rugby games. Nick Phipps, Will Skelton, Matt Carraro and Israel Folau were congratulated for reaching their 50th caps for NSW.
Presentations were also made to the 10 NSW debutants this year, Zac Guildford, David Horwitz, Angus Ta’avao, Bryce Hegarty, Reece Robinson, Tom Robertson, Andrew Kellaway, James Hilterbrand, Ned Hanigan and Jim Stewart, six of which crossed for their first tries for the Club in 2016.
2016 Matthew Burke Final standings:
1. Michael Hooper – 297 votes
2. Israel Folau – 243 votes
3. Nick Phipps – 242 votes
4. Kurtley Beale – 158 votes
5. Jed Holloway – 112 votes
6. Dave Dennis – 101 votes
7. Bernard Foley – 98 votes
8. Tom Robertson – 91 votes
9. Tatafu Polota-Nau – 85 votes
10. Robert Horne – 80 votes
2016 NSW Waratahs Award winners:
Matthew Burke Cup Players’ Player – Michael Hooper
Best back – Israel Folau
Best forward – Jed Holloway
Chris Whitaker Aspiring Waratah – Tom Robertson
The Waratah Medal – Nick Phipps
Member’s Choice – Michael Hooper
The David Dennis NSW Under 20s Player of the Year (new in 2016) – Ryan McCauley
2016 NSW debutants – Zac Guildford, David Horwitz, Angus Ta’avao, Bryce Hegarty, Reece Robinson, Tom Robertson, Andrew Kellaway, Ned Hanigan, Jim Stewart.
2016 players who reached their 50th cap for NSW – Israel Folau, Matt Carraro, Will Skelton, Nick Phipps
2016 players who reached their 100th cap for NSW – Dean Mumm, Dave Dennis, Rob Horne.
Matthew Burke Cup winners (last decade):
2016 – Michael Hooper
2015 – Michael Hooper
2014 – Michael Hooper
2013 – Michael Hooper
2012 – Dave Dennis
2011 – Kurtley Beale
2010 – Tatafu Polota-Nau
2009 – Wycliff Palu
2008 – Wycliff Palu
2007 – Rocky Elsom
2006 – Adam Freier
2005 – Nathan Grey