After winning the award twice before, George Gregan has been nominated once again for the Rugby Union Players Association Medal of Excellence.
The Wallaby captain has been shortlisted along with Test team-mate Stirling Mortlock, Waratahs hooker Adam Freier and Reds flanker David Croft. The award will be handed to one of these players by former Aussie captain Andrew Slack at the RUPA Christmas Lunch in Sydney on December 8.
All 132 players from the four Australian provincial unions were able to vote before the Aussies toured Europe in November. Voting on a 3-2-1 basis, the Australian player fraternity were instructed to name a player who excelled both on and off the park in the respective departments of performance, leadership, consistency and discipline. Their contribution to charitable work, vocational skills and their commitment to the development of the game was also considered.
Gregan won the inaugural medal in 2001, and again in 2004. He was rested for the recent tour which allowed Stirling Mortlock the opportunity to lead the Wallabies.
The other two nominees have shined in the domestic leagues and may soon be making a comback to the international scene. Freier captured the Matthew Burke Cup as New South Wales Player of the Year while Croft was prominent in every game he played for the Reds this season. Croft also featured in Australia A’s fixture against Fiji, as well as the Prime Minister XV’s initial match against Japan.
“Unlike other awards, the Rugby Medal For Excellence recognises the players on-field prowess as well as their leadership, general behaviour, charitable work and commitment to the development of the game,” RUPA Chief Executive Tony Dempsey said.
“What makes this award even more special is that the winner is judged by his peers – his fellow professional players. There can be no higher accolade than to be recognised and rewarded for your excellence by your fellow team-mates and opponents.”
2001 – George Gregan
2002 – Nathan Sharpe
2003 – Brendan Cannon
2004 – George Gregan
2005 – Nathan Sharpe