Melbourne Rebels backrower Sean McMahon has claimed his second consecutive player of the year honour after being named the 2016 Rebels Players’ Player at an awards function on Saturday afternoon.
Another stellar season saw the 22-year-old pole the most votes from his peers to claim the Players’ Player awards for the second straight year, finishing ahead of Jordy Reid, Tamati Ellison, Toby Smith and debutant Reece Hodge.
McMahon finished the 2016 Super Rugby season as one of Australia’s most damaging forwards with career best statistics, including three tries from 14 games and made the most tackles (129) and equal-most line breaks (eight) by a Rebels player.
The Rebels Players’ Player honour caps off a remarkable year for the Queensland-native, who was also named the 2016 Super Rugby Player of the Year at Australian Rugby Union’s John Eales Medal in October.
“It’s a pleasure to receive this award again from all the boys – what a year it’s been,” McMahon said in a video message from Wallabies camp ahead of their clash with Ireland on Saturday night.
“I just want to thank managing director Andrew Cox, coach Tony McGahan and everyone for their support throughout the year, especially the playing group.
“I’m really looking forward to hitting next year and hopefully we can take another step forward for the club and play finals.”
The Player’s Player award, voted on by all matchday 23 players after every game, has been claimed by a back rower for a fourth straight year after McMahon (2015), Colby Fainga’a (2014) and Higginbotham (2013).
“A second straight Players’ Player award for Sean is a just recognition of his consistent contribution to the club on as a player and leader by his peers,” Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan said.
“Sean continues to develop as an outstanding player and ambassador for this club. He’s highly respected around the club and will play an important role in driving the Melbourne Rebels to future success.”
The afternoon saw the club celebrate another season of firsts, which included a record equalling seven victories, maiden victory over the Sunwolves in Japan, a historic first win over the Waratahs in Sydney and held top spot on the Australian Conference ladder during the season for the first time.
Jordy Reid was named recipient of the Spirit of Weary Dunlop award, chosen by Rebels coaching staff, for who best exemplifies the club’s values of defending the line against all odds, never giving in, being a great team person and battling the hard moments on the field. Reid was also unanimously named the Rebels People’s Choice award, as voted by club’s members and fans.
Hodge was crowned Rebels Rookie of the Year after a remarkable debut season. The 22-year-old, who was also named Super Rugby Rookie of the Year and is a nominee for the Rugby Union Players Association’s Newcomer of the Year award, finished his maiden season with a club record nine tries and 63 points, which included a record 20 points on debut in Round 1 against the Force.
Tom English, who stepped up as captain during the 2016 National Rugby Championship (NRC) in the absence of injured skipper Nic Stirzaker, was named the Melbourne Rising Player of the Year and rising star Harley Fox was honoured with the Rising Spirit award.
Fainga’a claimed the 2016 Rebels Try of the Year award after he finished off a well executed team try against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland in Round 10. A lineout at half-way and strong runs from Hodge and McMahon set up the try before a quick spread of the ball and great hands from Pat Leafa and Toby Smith saw Fainga’a tiptoe down the touchline to score in the corner.
The Rebels Players Awards presentation, which saw the presentation of Melbourne Rebels and Melbourne Rising annual awards together for the first time, wrapped up the 2016 season for the club.
2016 Rebels Award Winners
Rebels Players’ Player Award – Sean McMahon
Rebels Spirit of Weary Dunlop Award – Jordy Reid
Rebels Rookie of the Year – Reece Hodge
Rebels People’s Choice Award – Jordy Reid
Rising Player of the Year – Tom English
Rising Spirit Award – Harley Fox
2016 Try of the Year – Colby Fainga’a