With the advent of the inaugural Buildcorp NRC, a brand new award was added to the annual RUPA Awards Lunch this year, with the first winner of the Buildcorp NRC Players' Player going to Brisbane City's, Samu Kerevi.
Voted by Buildcorp NRC players, Samu was recognised as the best player in the tournament after receiving the highest amount of votes from his peers.
Samu Kerevi was a standout from the opening Buildcorp NRC match at Ballymore, showing, in his very first NRC appearance, that Brisbane City had the goods to make it all the way. In one of his best games all season, Samu recorded an awe-inspiring man of the match performance in his side’s 45-20 victory over the Sydney Stars, setting up try after try with attacking prowess.
The Fijian born centre made the number 12 Brisbane City jersey his own with powerful ball carries and tackle busts. A product of Brisbane State High School and Brisbane’s GPS Club, Samu scored tries in round three, four, seven and was one of nine Brisbane City players to cross the line in the round eight match against the North Harbour Rays.
Despite being ruled out of the Buildcorp NRC Grand Final match due to injury, Samu’s performances throughout the season continued to prove a huge asset for Brisbane City’s run to the final.
Samu’s efforts were recognised as he made the nominees list for the Super Rugby Rookie of the Year and Buildcorp NRC Award at the 2014 John Eales Medal. As a member of the Queensland Reds Extended Playing Squad, Samu was rewarded with his first full-time contract with the side this year. He was also a nominee for this year’s 2014 RUPA Newcomer of the Year, voted by Super Rugby players.
Samu was up against a hugely talented lineup of unearthed talent from this year's Buildcorp NRC. The other nominees are listed below.
Jack Debreczeni (Melbourne Rising)
Another player to come out all guns blazing from the start, Jack was titled “chief playmaker” from the very first games of the NRC tournament. By the end, he finished in the lead on the top points scorers list, with 144 points to his name, a huge 56 points ahead of the second placed NSW Country Eagle’s representative, Sam Windsor. He also placed third in the top try scorers list.
Jack played every game for the Melbourne Rising in their 2014 campaign. Some of his highlights include a try and six successful conversions in round eight, followed by one of the best tries of the season in round nine, when he picked up a loose ball before running 60 metres to bring the Rising’s lead out to 13-0 just 16 minutes into the match. Despite the Rising's semi-final loss to the Perth Spirit, Jack was on fire with the boot, slotting each of the three try conversions.
His work around the park is also to be commended with his ability to break through defensive lines and pin-point accuracy grubber kicks assisting his team’s progression.
This year Jack polled second behind Sean McMahon in the Melbourne Rising’s Shawn Mackay Players’ Player Award and was one of the five nominees for the Buildcorp NRC Award at the John Eales Medal. As a member of the Melbourne Rebels’ Extended Playing Squad Jack recently extended his Super rugby contract until end 2017.
Andrew Kellaway (NSW Country Eagles)
It’s no surprise Andrew finished first on the 2014 Buildcorp NRC top try scorers list, having crossed successfully nine times (in seven matches) during the season, ahead of Melbourne Rising’s Telusa Veainu. Andrew possesses a strong knack for setting the tone in games and assisting his team’s high point-scoring abilities.
There wasn’t a game or a highlights reel that didn’t feature Andrew’s try-scoring, which included a hat-trick in round two, and a further two tries recorded in round three and round eight.
It’s been a highly successful year for the breakout star who was a representative of the NSW National Under 20 Champions side.
From there he was selected in the Australia Under 20s side to play at the IRB Junior World Cup in June where he made history with his 10 tries, beating former All Black Zac Guildford and current New Zealand international Julian Savea’s joint record for the most tries in the tournament (eight).
He has been a member of the Australian Schoolboys side for the last three years and, with the capability of playing in multiple positions, has been flagged as the next big thing in Australian rugby.
Watch this space.
Nick Frisby (Brisbane City)
Queensland Reds and GPS Club representative, Nick Frisby also enjoyed a prosperous tournament with inaugural Buildcorp NRC Champions, Brisbane City. As their number one scrumhalf, Nick demonstrated a knack for delivering the ball to his teammates to set up an effective play.
Frisby’s NRC highlights included an impressive inside ball to Michael Gunn to help him cross for a five pointer in Brisbane City’s defeat of the North Harbour Rays in round eight. Combine this with speedy dashes past defence, strong passing and an eye for placing the ball in the sweet spot for his teammates’ attacking efforts and it’s easy to see why Nick made the scrumhalf position his own.
With 24 Super Rugby caps to his name, 2014 was Nick’s second year with the Queensland Reds, an opportunity he has extended after recommitting to the side this year.
Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rising)
There really doesn’t need to be any words written in this space. Sean’s skyrocketing rugby career in 2014 is truly inspirational. From guiding the Australian Under 20s at the IRB Junior World Cup, receiving a bronze medal as an Australian Sevens representative at the Commonwealth Games, performances in Super Rugby and the inaugural Buildcorp NRC with the Melbourne Rebels and Rising before pulling on the gold jersey to make his debut at the highest level of rugby for his country.
He sat out round one of the Buildcorp NRC upon his return from the Commonwealth Games. But his impact in the Rising’s undefeated campaign through the regular season didn’t go unnoticed. He was renowned for his big hits during the tournament, scored a try in round five to help secure the Rising’s 37-16 defeat over the NSW Country Eagles and another in round nine in the victory over Queensland Country.
The list of accolades for Sean in 2014 is already long, having already been named as the winner of the 2014 Melbourne Rebels Rookie of the Year, Australian Under 20s Player of the Year, Buildcorp NRC Award, Super Rugby Rookie of the Year and the Melbourne Rising’s inaugural Shawn Mackay Players’ Player Award. Will he also top the votes amongst his NRC peers to take out this year’s Buildcorp NRC Players’ Player?