Latham breaks the mould

Wallaby fullback Chris Latham became the first backline player in history to be awarded the John Eales medal, the Australian players’ player of the year award.

The 31 year old collected the accolade at an awards function on Tuesday night, after he had received a record of 345 votes. These votes were based on his 13 Test performances this season, and were cast by each member of every game’s match 22.

Latham’s tally far exceeded that of his predecessors George Smith (2002), Phil Waugh (2003), David Lyons (2004) and Jeremy Paul (2005), none of whom reached even 200 votes in claiming their medals.

“It’s hard to say [that this was my] best year ever, but I probably had moments this year when I played better than I ever have before. Definitely,” the 68-Test veteran told reporters.

Also in the running for the award was lock Nathan Sharpe, who finished with 171 votes. Smith garnered 157, followed by winger Lote Tuqiri on 135. Big loose forward Wycliff Palu received 93 votes after his first international season.

Loosehead Greg Holmes, who scored a memorable breakaway try against the Irish in June, won the Rookie of the Year award.