Ipswich hardman claims Civoniceva Medal
Ipswich Jets skipper Nathaniel Neale has tonight received the inaugural Petero Civoniceva Medal as the best and fairest player in the Intrust Super Cup.
The 29-year-old former Rabbitohs forward polled maximum votes in Ipswich's final round match to finish on 30 points, two clear of exciting Sunshine Coast Falcons hooker Harry Grant.
Neale's late season charge was mirrored by the form of his own team, which snatched the sixth and final spot in the semi-finals on the back of the Round 24 victory over the Norths Devils last Sunday.
The final Civoniceva Medal points (voted on by referees on a 3-2-1 basis after each game) were revealed in front of more than 350 guests at Brisbane City Hall tonight.
Neale and Grant were the runaway leaders for most of the season, with Jake Clifford (Pride, 19), Zach Dockar-Clay (Blackhawks, 16) and Billy Walters (Tigers, 16) also in the mix.
Neale was thrilled to receive the award from league great Petero Civoniceva, who made an immense contribution to the game by returning to the Intrust Super Cup for two seasons after his NRL journey ended in 2013.
It was a night to savour for Neale, who was also named Prop of the Year after his outstanding efforts in the middle for the Jets this year.
Some of Queensland's brightest young prospects, including David Fifita and Clifford, were in the thick of tonight's awards.
Fifita was the XXXX Representative Player of the Year and the Mal Meninga Cup Player of the Year, while Pride and Cowboys young gun Clifford was the Rookie of the Year.
Following her outstanding performance in the inaugural Holden Women's State of Origin match, Queensland stalwart Steph Hancock was announced as the Harvey Norman Women's Representative Player of the Year.
A significant part of the evening was also devoted to acknowledging the game's volunteers at grassroots level.
The Far North's Barry Beswick was announced as the QRL Volunteer of the Year, while Mei-Lin Dean took out the Women in League Achievement Award for her outstanding efforts in the South Burnett.
Sports Minister Mick de Brenni spoke passionately about the State Government's commitment to the game and regional communities before announcing Blackall RLFC as the QRL's Grassroots Club of the Year.
2018 QRL Awards
• Hastings Deering Colts Minor Premiership, presented by Hastings Deering: Townsville Blackhawks
• John 'Cracker' McDonald Minor Premiership: Redcliffe Dolphins
• Club Championship: Norths Devils
• XXXX Representative Player of the Year: David Fifita (Queensland Under 18s)
• Harvey Norman Women's Representative Player of the Year: Steph Hancock
• Struddys Leading Points Scorer: Guy Hamilton (Souths Logan Magpies)
• Struddys Leading Try Scorer: Daniel Ogden (Wynnum Manly Seagulls) & Michael Purcell (Ipswich Jets)
• QRL Volunteer of the Year: Barry Beswick
• QRL Women in League Achievement Award: Mei-Lin Dean
• QRL Grassroots Club of the Year: Blackall RLFC
• Pedro Gallagher Award for Rookie of the Year, presented by the Carbine Club: Jake Clifford (Northern Pride)
• Mal Meninga Cup Player of the Year: David Fifita (Souths Logan Magpies)
• Team of the Year, presented by Stage and Screen Travel Services:
Fullback: Scott Drinkwater (Easts Tigers)
Winger: Kalifa Faifai-Loa (Townsville Blackhawks)
Centre: Kotoni Staggs (Redcliffe Dolphins)
Five-Eighth: Billy Walters (Easts Tigers)
Halfback: Jake Clifford (Northern Pride)
Prop: Nathaniel Neale (Ipswich Jets)
Hooker: Pat Politoni (Burleigh Bears)
Second Row: Patrick Kaufusi (Easts Tigers)
Lock: Jamil Hopoate (Redcliffe Dolphins)
Coach: Ty Williams (Northern Pride)
• Hastings Deering Colts Player of the Year: Shannon Gardiner (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
• Petero Civoniceva Medal: Nathaniel Neale (Ipswich Jets)