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RugbyWA and the Emirates Western Force have joined in congratulating former captain Nathan Sharpe on receiving the 2012 John Eales Medal at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre tonight.
Sharpe became the second player – alongside George Smith – to receive the award for a second time after the Wallabies lock first took out the medal in 2007.
The 34-year-old polled 259 votes, 24 ahead of his nearest rival David Pocock and 88 ahead of last year’s Under 20s Player of the Year, Michael Hooper.
In addition to being named the 2012 John Eales Medallist, Sharpe also took out Australia’s Choice – Wallabies Player of the Year and Spirit of Rugby – Nick Farr-Jones Award
RugbyWA Chairman Russel Perry commended Sharpe on tonight’s tributes.
“On behalf of RugbyWA, the Emirates Western Force and the WA rugby community, I would like to congratulate Nathan on a fantastic effort and consistent performances that have led to him claiming the 2012 John Eales Medal,” he said.
“Tonight’s award is another deserved accolade for an outstanding athlete who has always given his all on the rugby field, whether representing his state or country.
“To receive two awards – one voted by his peers and another by the fans – demonstrates the high esteem in which Nathan is held in Australian rugby.
“As for the Spirit of Rugby Award, you couldn’t find a more deserving recipient. For someone to postpone retirement on two occasions for his country and go on to arguably the best form of his career speaks volumes for the measure of the man.
“I would again like to congratulate Nathan on these outstanding achievements and wish him and his Wallaby teammates all the best for their upcoming European tour.”
The 2012 John Eales Medal caps off an incredible career for the 112-Test veteran who has also received the 2002 Rookie of the Year Award and the 2007 John Eales Medal.
Tonight Sharpe was named Australia’s Choice – Wallabies Player of the Year, an award voted by fans over the past three weeks for the Wallabies player they believe to be the most valuable to the side over the past 12-months.
He was also awarded the inaugural Spirit of Rugby – Nick Farr-Jones Award for his services to Rugby. The new award recognises the outstanding contribution in a given year made by an active participant in the game – player, referee, coach, administrator or volunteer – at any level of rugby.
Named after Australia’s first Rugby World Cup winning captain, Nick Farr-Jones, the winner of the Spirit of Rugby Award is deemed to be a person who best upholds the ethos and spirit of Rugby on and off the field.
Sharpe was handed the award after he twice called off his retirement to lead the Wallabies in the second half of the 2012 season.
The evening’s other awards were presented to:
• Michael Hooper - Wallabies Rookie of the Year;
• Ben Alexander – Try of the Year Award;
• Dick McGruther OBE – Joe French Award (Services to Rugby);
• Ed Jenkins – Sevens Player of the Year;
• Emilee Cherry – Women’s Player of the Year;
• Curtis Browning – U20s Player of the Year;
• Steve Walsh – Referee of the Year;
• Mick Pini – Volunteer of the Year;
• Allen Gray - Wallabies Ultimate Fan.