Former NRL star claims historic John Eales Medal
Marika Koroibete revealed his warrior-like playing mentality after becoming the first winger to win the John Eales Medal for being voted as the best Wallabies player by his teammates.
The former NRL flyer polled 200 votes during the 2019 season, 50 more than runner-up Samu Kerevi.
"I hate losing, I just go on the field, 'Where is the No.14?' I'm No.11, who is the No.14? Me and you tonight. That's my mentality. We'll go out there and see who the best player on the field tonight," Koroibete said.
"It's not about me versing the whole team. I set my goals tiny, me and my winger, compete with him.
"The game plan this year suited me very well, I liked it, and it was simple so I enjoyed it this year.
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"It's such an honour to be named with all the great players who've won this medal before, I still can't believe it."
Koroibete hailed outgoing Wallabies coach Michael Cheika as a key reason for his stunning victory.
"Michael Cheika was the one who spoke to me, he's the one who moulded me to be here wearing this medal," Koroibete said.
"He didn't force me to play early, he took his time and encouraged me, gave me things six months by six months, and this year I've been working very hard with the Rebels coaching staff, they've supported me as well.
"[Cheika] is such a great man, he mingled well with the boys.
"I like him as a coach, he's honest with you, if there's something you need to work on he tells you straight, he doesn't beat around the bush.
"Unfortunately he's not here anymore, he's going overseas and I wish him the best."
Koroibete is just the fifth back to claim the medal in its 17-year history, joining fullbacks Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Chris Latham, and playmaker Matt Giteau.
A number of starring performances at the World Cup in Japan saw Koroibete leapfrog Kerevi, who had started the Test season strongly during The Rugby Championship.
The 27-year-old Melbourne Rebels winger signed a new two-year deal with Australian rugby in September, ensuring he will remain here until the end of 2021 despite fielding offers from European clubs.
Ironically, Koroibete has claimed the Eales medal in the same year Folau - also a former NRL star for Melbourne Storm - was sacked by RA due to social media posts in April.
Kerevi was awarded Australia's Super Rugby player of the year for his immense performances for Queensland.
The Wallabies were hammered by England in the quarter-finals by a record margin in World Cups, leading Cheika to stand down as coach and then expose severe friction between himself and RA executives Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne.
The bitter end to the 2019 Wallabies campaign did not diminish the celebrations of other award winners on the night, while Cheika received praise for his efforts from Castle and RA president Tim Gavin.
Other winners included Wallaroos' player of the year Grace Hamilton, men's Sevens player of the year Maurice Longbottom, and women's Sevens player of the year Charlotte Caslick.
Australian under-20s captain Fraser McReight, who led his side to the final of the junior World Cup which the Australians narrowly lost to France, won his second successive under-20s player of the year award.
The rookie of the year award was jointly shared by rising Wallabies star Jordan Petaia - who debuted during the World Cup - and women's young gun Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea.
Meanwhile, legendary halves pair George Gregan and Stephen Larkham were inducted into the Wallabies Hall of Fame together, with the centurions celebrated in front of a packed house at Sydney's Seymour Centre.
Gregan, Australia's most-capped Test player, accepted the award on Larkham's behalf with the 102-Test flyhalf currently serving as an Assistant Coach at Irish club side Munster.
Queenslander, and Souths club stalwart Peter 'Doubles' Daley was recognised with the Nick Farr-Jones spirit of rugby award for services to the game while long-time NSW Waratahs doctor Sharron Flahive received the Joe French Award for her outstanding contribution to rugby following 20 years as the team physician.
RUGBY AUSTRALIA AWARDS 2019 WINNERS
JOHN EALES MEDAL WINNERS
2019: Marika Koroibete
2018: David Pocock
2017: Israel Folau
2016: Michael Hooper
2015: Israel Folau
2014: Israel Folau
2013: Michael Hooper
2012: Nathan Sharpe
2011: Kurtley Beale
2010: David Pocock
2009: Matt Giteau
2008: George Smith
2007: Nathan Sharpe
2006: Chris Latham
2005: Jeremy Paul
2004: David Lyons
2003: Phil Waugh
2002: George Smith