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League’s best on cusp of QSport Awards honours

Queensland’s leading players, coaches, referees, clubs and representative teams have been recognised by the state’s peak sport body following another breathtaking season.

Rugby league nominees will proudly feature across five categories at the annual QSport Awards, further reinforcing the significant role Queensland Rugby League plays in developing talent through its pathways.

The awards are headlined by the Sport Star of the Year category, in which Kalyn Ponga, Tamika Upton and Reuben Cotter have been announced as contenders following their brilliant performances in 2023.

Kalyn Ponga. Photo: NRL Imagery
Kalyn Ponga. Photo: NRL Imagery

The trio all featured in some of the highest individual honours within the game this year, adding further merit to their hopes of upsetting the other QSport finalists from AFL, bowls, cricket, motocross, swimming, football and diving.

Ponga received the Dally M Medal as the best men’s player in the National Rugby League, while Upton took out the female equivalent, as well as the Annie Banks Medal for her performances with the Harvey Normal Queensland Maroons.

Tamika Upton. Photo: NRL Imagery
Tamika Upton. Photo: NRL Imagery

After three powerhouse games in the men’s Origin for the Maroons, Cotter won the Wally Lewis Medal as the player of the series; and the Ron McAuliffe Medal as Queensland’s best.

Having claimed the State of Origin series double, the Queensland men’s and women’s State of Origin teams are frontrunners for the Queensland Sport Team of the Year in a hot field that also includes the Brisbane Broncos.

The respective coaches of those three teams are fighting it out for the Queensland Sport Coach of the Year, with Billy Slater (men’s Maroons), Tahnee Norris (women’s Maroons) and Kevin Walters (Broncos) all in the mix, along with the Gold Coast Titans’ Karyn Murphy.

Other Queensland rugby league individuals in contention for awards are Adam Tannock (Queensland Government athlete with a disability) and Belinda Sharpe (sport officiator of the year).

Belinda Sharpe. Photo: NRL Imagery
Belinda Sharpe. Photo: NRL Imagery

Queensland Rugby League chief executive officer Ben Ikin congratulated the rugby league nominees.

“It has been an exceptional year for rugby league in Queensland across all levels of the game,” Ikin said.

“We’re very proud to field finalists in multiple categories. It’s a feather in the cap for the people who work behind the scenes every week, especially our volunteers.

“Their efforts ensure that everyone who participates in our great game has the support they need to go after their rugby league dreams.”

QSport is the state’s peak body for sport and coordinates the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame, as well as the annual Queensland Sport Awards which recognise and celebrate the success and impact of Queensland’s leading athletes, teams, coaches, officials, administrators, volunteers and events.

Category winners will be announced at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on November 30.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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