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To'o caps stellar Origin series with Brad Fittler Medal

Brian To’o has tonight claimed the prestigious Brad Fittler Medal after a standout State of Origin series where the Westpac NSW Blues winger averaged more than 200 running metres per match.

The medal was presented by Westpac NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler at The Star Event Centre in front of more than 500 guests on a night where 20 awards were announced for Representative Competitions, Major Competitions, Junior Representative Competitions and community.

Emma Tonegato was named the NSW Women’s Origin Player of the Year, Liam Martin won the True Blues Award, NSW Women’s Origin co-captain Kezie Apps took out the Sky Blues Award, while Cody Walker won The Daily Telegraph People’s Choice Award.

To’o has represented NSW nine times since making his debut in 2021 and played a key role in the Game Three win in Sydney this year. He ran for 258m, including 102 post-contact, had a line break, an offload two tackle busts and scored the opening try of the game.

Martin overcame injury to play all three games in this year’s series, including a well-worked try in Game One in Adelaide, while Walker was recalled for Game Three in Sydney and turned in a starring performance to ensure the Blues would finish the series on a high.

“Brian epitomises the attributes of a NSW Blues player as he always gives his all whenever he pulls on the jersey,” Westpac NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler said.

“He is a hard worker at training and on the field, and brings a great energy to camp that other players enjoy being around.

“Liam brings plenty of natural aggression to the team and I can always count on him to do a job for me, while Cody showed just how dangerous he can be after being recalled for Game Three.

“I congratulate all the winners from the State of Origin series, as well as all the winners who have been recognised across our competitions and community for the wonderful seasons they’ve had and the contributions they’ve made.”

Tonegato, who was presented her medal by Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder, had an equally impressive series for the NSW Sky Blues, including Game Two in Townsville where she ran for 238m, had 11 tackle busts and two offloads.

Apps overcame injury to lead the Sky Blues this season and celebrated a record 11th appearance for her state. She led from the front after averaging 79 run metres per game, making five tackle busts and 37 tackles with an efficiency of 97 per cent.

“Emma deserved the NSW Women’s Origin Player of the Year as she was so consistent in both games and always a threat whenever she touched the ball,” Hilder said. “She is such a professional both on and off the field, and is an absolute pleasure to coach.

“I am so happy for Kezie as she had to work so hard to get just get herself on the field this year after suffering her injury. To go out and perform like she did, and in a new position as well, was inspiring for her teammates and highlighted her leadership qualities.”

Canberra Raiders young gun Ethan Strange was named NSW Under 19s Origin Player of the Year after scoring a hat-trick in the win against Queensland; while Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs hooker Chelsea Makira took out the NSW Under 19s Women’s Origin Player of the Year after a performance where she scored two tries.

South Sydney Rabbitohs halfback Dean Hawkins was named The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup Player of the Year after steering his club to a second-placed finish.

Hawkins has played 19 games for the club in 2023 for six tries, 48 goals, 17 try assists, 15 line break assists and an average of 340 kicking metres per game.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs forward Holli Wheeler was named Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership Player of the Year after leading her club to a Grand Final appearance.

Wheeler missed out on playing in the historic 1-0 Grand Final loss to Mounties after suffering a knee injury in the Semi-final.

The Gordon Lowrie Memorial Community Volunteer of the Year Award winner was also announced with the honour going to Taree Red Rovers Junior Rugby League Club President Christopher Hollis.

Hollis, who also holds roles at the club as referee, ground manager and coach, has been providing Rugby League opportunities to Indigenous and socially disadvantaged children for the past 25 years.

The Brad Fittler Medal night recognises and celebrates the achievements of players across all NSWRL teams and competitions, from Origin to seniors, juniors and women, as well as the contributions of referees, club officials and volunteers.

Other players to have won the Brad Fittler Medal include Steve Menzies (2006), Danny Buderus (2008), Paul Gallen (2011), Robbie Farah (2012), David Klemmer (2017), Tedesco (2018-19, 22), Nathan Cleary (2020) and Tom Trbojevic (2021).

Brad Fittler Medal: Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers)

True Blue Award: Liam Martin (Penrith Partners)

The Daily Telegraph People’s Choice Award: Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

NSW Women’s State of Origin Player of the Year: Emma Tonegato (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

Sky Blues Award: Kezie Apps (Wests Tigers)

NSW Under 19s State of Origin Player of the Match: Ethan Strange (Canberra Raiders)

NSW Under 19s Women’s State of Origin Player of the Match: Chelsea Makira (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup Player of the Year: Dan Hawkins (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership Player of the Year: Holli Wheeler (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Jersey Flegg Cup Player of the Year: Max McCathie (Sydney Roosters) 

Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup Player of the Year: Jake Butfield (St Marys Saints)

Sydney Shield Player of the Year: Ryan Joynes (Ryde-Eastwood Hawks)

Men’s Country Championship Player of the Year: Chad O’Donnell (Newcastle Maitland Region Knights)

Women’s Country Championship Player of the Year: Krystal Blackwell (Monaro Colts)

Tom Nelson Medal for SLE Laurie Daley Cup Player of the Year: Xavier Cacciotti (Monaro Colts)

Ron Lanesbury Medal for SLE Andrew Johns Cup Player of the Year: Jack Talbott (South Coast Illawarra Dragons)

Grade Referee of the Year: Damian Brady

Junior Representative Referee of the Year: Brayden Hunt 

Ray Stellar Club Person of the Year: Ian Boardman (Hills Bulls)

Gordon Lowrie Memorial Community Volunteer of the Year Award: Christopher Hollis (Taree Red Rovers JRLC)

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales 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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