The Melbourne Rebels have announced that Colby Fainga'a has capped a remarkable first year in Melbourne by winning the Rebels' Player's Player Award at the Club's End of Season Awards night on Friday.
After joining the Rebels from the Brumbies, 23 year old backrower Fainga'a played fifteen matches in his maiden season in Melbourne, earning his 50th Super Rugby cap in the process, and also agreed to terms on a new deal which keeps him at the Rebels until the end of the 2016 season.
The Player's Player award is voted on by all matchday 23 players after every game, and Fainga'a follows in the footsteps of former winners Scott Higginbotham (2013), Kurtley Beale (2012) and Nick Phipps (2011) in being awarded the Club's highest individual honour.
Other recipients of awards on the Rebels' night of nights were Sean McMahon, Luke Jones and Tom Sexton.
McMahon received the award for Rookie of the Year, which was presented in his absence as he is currently in Glasgow representing the Australian Rugby Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games. Three former recipients of the award were in attendance, in Tom English (2013), Cadeyrn Neville (2012) and departing Rebel Hugh Pyle (2011).
Luke Jones became the first Australian to win the Spirit of Weary Dunlop Award, awarded to the Rebel that best exemplifies the spirit of Weary Dunlop by defending the line against all odds, never giving in, helping others and enduring hardship on the field. All three previous winners came from across the Tasman; Ged Robinson (2011), Tom Chamberlain (2012) and Scott Fuglistaller (2013). It caps a remarkable season for Foundation Rebel Jones, who made his Wallaby debut against France at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium in June.
Tom Sexton was awarded the Rod Macqueen Five Star Award, previously won by Sam Cordingley (2011), Adam Freier (2012) and Pat Leafa (2013). Sexton joined the Club from Irish side Leinster for the 2014 season, however saw his chance of a Super Rugby debut cruelly snatched away when he sustained a serious knee injury in December 2013.
The Irishman, who is set to return to contact training shortly and will be available to represent the Melbourne Rising in the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC), has dedicated a great amount of time during his rehabilitation to promoting the community game in Victoria. The Rod Macqueen Five Star award is presented to the player who best exemplifies the pursuit of excellence, and engages in all aspects of the Rebels' Five Stars program (community, schools, Clubs, charity and business).
Former Rebel prop Nic Henderson, now the Club's General Manager of Elite Pathways, was awarded the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) Rebel of the Year, while CEO Rob Clarke's departing Executive Assistant Lisa Mirabella was presented with the Rebels' Rebel of the Year award, after concluding her four years service ahead of overseas adventures.
The evening represented the end of the 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby season, with departing players and staff farewelled and recognised for their efforts, and attention now turns to the NRC with the Melbourne Rising's first match against the North Harbour Rays on August 24th at AAMI Park.
Final leaderboard on completion of the 2014 Rebels season.
Colby Fainga'a - 237
Mitch Inman - 173
Scott Higginbotham - 163
Scott Fuglistaller - 124
Luke Burgess - 117
Tamati Ellison - 108
Luke Jones - 107
Bryce Hegarty - 104