Skipper Palavi leads from the front to claim award

John Palavi has capped an outstanding first season for the Tweed Heads Seagulls by winning the club’s best and fairest award at the annual awards dinner held at Seagulls recently.

Palavi, the former NZ Warriors player signed this season from Norths Devils, took over the captaincy from last year’s award winner Cheyne Whitelaw who suffered a second ACL injury mid-season, and led the Ben Woolf-coached side to their first finals appearance since 2014.

The tough and consistent prop – who is set to stay for a second season on the Tweed – was humble in accepting the major award of the night, the Col Murphy Trophy, thanking his team mates for accepting him as a senior player and leader.

“I am very fortunate that this close-knit playing group accepted me coming from Norths and I am so proud of the way we finished the season, making the finals and fighting right to the end of the semi against Redcliffe,” Palavi said.

“I think we have a lot of improvement still in us and hopefully the team can stay together and go further next year.”

Palavi was a tremendous contributor up front, averaging 111 metres and 10 hit-ups a game, making 41 tackle busts for the season, and averaging 24 tackles at an efficiency of an outstanding 91 per cent.

“JP was a massive addition to our team; so tough, consistent and durable and a natural leader in the team,” coach Woolf said.

“His positive attitude was a big influence on out improved performance and he has the respect of everyone.”

Utility back Talor Walters, who scored 14 tries after starting at fullback and playing the last third of the season on the right wing, was the players’ player for 2019 while high-workrate forward Kirk Murphy won the coach’s award.

Around 150 people celebrated the Seagulls’ much-improved season that saw all three men’s teams – Intrust Super Cup, Hastings Deering Colts and Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup - make the finals, with the Under 18 side going on to snare the national championships trophy after beating the NSW Jersey Flegg Cup winners Illawarra.

Tweed’s inaugural women’s team beat defending premiers Burleigh Bears and had second-rower Jessika Elliston play for the Queensland Maroons and then be joined by halfback Tarryn Aiken in the Broncos NRLW squad.

Australian Schoolboys and Queensland Under 18 rep Brendan Piakura, signed by the Broncos, was the Under 18s players’ player with Titans-bound Juwan Compain taking the coach’s award.

The Colts’ award winners were Ben Thomas (players’ player) who took home the Craig Farrugia award in honour of the late club stalwart, while Callum Boomer won the coach’s award.

The Seagulls had players in all Queensland representative sides in 2019, and no less than 12 members of Tim Maccan’s Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup squad have agreements with NRL clubs, showing what an outstanding pathway the Titans’ feeder club has become.

Award winners for 2019:

Intrust Super Cup

Col Hayes Trophy for best and fairest: John Palavi

Players’ player: Talor Walters

Coach’s award: Kirk Murphy

Hastings Deering Colts Cup

Players’ player: Ben Thomas

Coach’s award: Callum Boomer

Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup

Craig Farrugia players’ player award: Brendan Piakura

Coach’s award: Juwan Compain

South East Queensland Division 1 women:

Players’ player: Tarryn Aiken

Coach’s award: Serena Martin

Club person of the year: Gavin Holmes