Genia crowned as Australia's best player

Getty Images     27 Jul 2012     Getty Images

Reds scrumhalf, Will Genia, secured the 2012 Super Rugby Player of the Year Award by a single vote to claim the top Award for the second time in as many years.

Going into the last round Genia was equal on points with team mate, Scott Higginbotham and RaboDirect Rebels playmaker Kurtley Beale and was just two points behind the leaders, University of Canberra Brumbies fly-half, Christian Lealiifano and Emirates Western Force captain, David Pocock.

With Lealiifano, Pocock and Beale all out injured in the final round of the season it came down to the two Queenslanders and whether or not one of them could poll maximum votes in their game against the HSBC Waratahs.

As he did in 2011 Genia polled three votes in the final home and away match of the year to leapfrog Lealiifano and Pocock to take the top award while his team mate Higginbotham polled two points to finish equal second in the voting.

Going into the final round last year Genia was tied with Reds playmaker, Quade Cooper and it was the scrumhalf’s man-of-the-match effort against the Chiefs that secured him the 2011 title while Cooper polled a single vote to deliver him outright second.

Genia polled votes in seven matches this year compared to nine last year, including four man-of-the-match performances against the Sharks in Durban in round 4, the Blues in Auckland in round 10, the Lions at Suncorp in round 13 and the Waratahs at Suncorp in round 18.

After winning the Award for the second season running Genia becomes just the third player to achieve the feat joining former Brumbies and Wallabies flanker George Smith and former Waratahs and Reds fullback Chris Latham as the only other players to go back-to-back.

The Reds also secured the Australian Team of the Year award for topping the Australian Conference table, while former World Cup winning Wallaby and Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie was named Australian Coach of the Year for a record fifth time in his career.

McKenzie, who secured the award last year after he led the side to the top of the Australian conference and ultimately Queensland’s maiden Super Rugby title, was first awarded the title in 2005 while at the helm of the Waratahs.

In 2006 he claimed the honours again before collecting a third Award in 2008 during his final season with the Waratahs.

The only other coach to win the award more than twice is McKenzie’s former Wallaby team mate David Nucifora who was named Australian Super Rugby Coach of the Year three years running from 2002 – 2004 while at the helm of the ACT Brumbies.

The Reds also took out the Super Rugby Try of the Year Award for a tremendous team effort against the Rebels in round 16, which was finished off by Dom Shipperley.

The only other Award on offer for the Queensland Franchise was Rookie of the Year, which was awarded to Brumbies flyer Joseph Tomane refusing the Reds of a clean sweep of Awards in 2012.

A revelation in his first season of Super Rugby after two years in the NRL, Tomane was one of the main strike weapons for the rejuvenated Brumbies.

Tomane finished the year with just three Player of the Year votes after polling in two games, however his efforts on the field were not missed by the selectors who rewarded the young Brumby with a Gold Qantas Wallabies jersey and his first Test cap during the June Test window.

After retiring at the end of the 2011 season Stuart Dickinson was not eligible to win a record sixth straight TNT Referee of the Year Award.

Steve Walsh was awarded the top honour for Australian referees in 2012.

It is the first time Walsh has claimed the Award and has been appointed to oversee this weekend’s Semi-Final between the Stormers and the Sharks in Cape Town.

ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill AO, congratulated all the award winners on their success and another exciting and enjoyable Super Rugby season.

“The 2012 Super Rugby season has certainly kept us wondering about a number of things including final table positions and awards,” Mr O’Neill said.

“In the end it came down to the results and performances in the final round of the year.

“While we only had one side in the Finals this year there was certainly a great deal shown by a number of the Australian Franchises that they will provide big threats in 2013.

“Commiserations to the Reds who missed out against the Sharks last weekend, however it was certainly a valiant effort and one that I am sure will provide them with a great deal of confidence when they shape up again in 2013.

“While we no longer have any Australian sides in the hunt for the 2012 title I think there is certainly a lot of potential and hunger brewing for Australian based success next year.

“I want to congratulate the Reds, Joseph Tomane, Steve Walsh and Will Genia for what they have achieved this season and for securing Awards today.”