The Western Force has recognised its most consistent players of 2019 at the annual Nathan Sharpe Medal awards dinner.
The Sharpe Medal for the overall Player of the Year was won by talented scrum-half, Issak Fines. The 24-year-old scored 327 votes to win a close count from Andrew Deegan (315) and Fergus Lee-Warner (307).
The Force enjoyed a successful season winning three trophies; Global Rapid Rugby’s Asia and Pacific Showcase along with the National Rugby Championship.
Head coach Tim Sampson praised the entire squad’s unfailing hard work and Fines consistency when regularly called upon to direct the team in captain Ian Prior’s absence.
“The team’s work ethics is never questionable, they are courageous and like to learn, challenge each other and challenge us too,” Sampson said.
“This medal is won based on consistency, and that was a strength of Issak. He stepped up for Ian who missed a lot of the season due to injury, week-in and week-out he offered us opportunities in the game when we needed to break the opposition open.”
Powerful lock Fergus Lee-Warner was awarded the Matt Hodgson Rising Star Medal, after a breakout year allowed him to shine throughout all competitions.
“As a second-year professional player, Fergus is constantly improving,” Sampson said.
“He is a player that is hugely consistent, defensively he is outstanding, rarely misses a tackle and there is a huge future ahead for Fergus ahead at the Force.”
A dominant player in the National Rugby Championship and a match-winner on Grand Final day, Henry Stowers was recognised for his outstanding season with the NRC Player of the Year Award.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Henry with how the year panned out for him,” Sampson said.
“He had a good Rapid Rugby season, got called into the Pacific Nations Cup for Samoa leading into the World Cup, and just missed out on selection. Then, for him to bounce back from that and have the NRC season that he did, it’s a huge effort and he deserves a lot of credit.”
Both the Nathan Sharpe Medal and the NRC Player of the Year Award are determined by each member of the matchday 23 voting for the best three players on the ground.
The Members’ MVP went to Perth local and first-year recruit Carlo Tizzano.
The 19-year-old had standout appearances in the Global Rapid Rugby and the NRC as well as representing Australia in the Junior Wallabies.
The Geoffrey Stooke Force Man is the coaches award and was presented to veteran prop Chris Heiberg.
“For the last few years Chris played tighthead for us, which is a foreign position for him. He just went with it and never shirked the work or questioned selections which shows the type of man he is,” Sampson explained.
“He does a lot of work out in the community, he is a huge club man and he is exactly the type of guy we want at the club and to represent the club.”
2019 Nathan Sharpe Medal Dinner – Award Winners
Nathan Sharpe Medal: Issak Fines
NRC Player of the Year: Henry Stowers
Members’ MVP: Carlo Tizzano
Matt Hodgson Rising Star: Fergus Lee-Warner
Geoffrey Stooke Force Man Award: Chris Heiberg
Nathan Sharpe Medal – Honour Roll
2018 – Brynard Stander
2017 – Isi Naisarani
2016 – Dane Haylett-Petty
2015 – Ben McCalman
2014 – Matt Hodgson
2013 – Kyle Godwin
2012 – David Pocock
2011 – David Smith
2010 – Matt Hodgson
2009 – Matt Hodgson
2008 – Ryan Cross
2007 – Matt Giteau
2006 – Scott Staniforth