Premier custodian caps stellar year
RUGBY LEAGUE Ipswich recognised its outstanding achievers at the annual awards presentation night on Friday.
Representatives from every club in the land assembled at the game's North Ipswich Reserve headquarters to celebrate another successful season.
Rugby League Ipswich chairman Gary Parker said it was an opportunity for the league to acknowledge exceptional contributors both on and off the field, including standout players, coaches, trainers and all of the volunteers who make rugby league the greatest game of all.
"I would like to thank everyone in the whole rugby league community in Ipswich for giving us a great year and we're look forward to a big 2020,” Parker said.
There was no surprise in the A-grade player of the year judging, with the competition's premier fullback Wesley Conlon fending off a late challenge from inspirational Swifts leader Jake O'Doherty to take the prize.
The former Ipswich Jet paid credit to O'Doherty and he praised his Brothers teammates as he humbly accepted the trophy.
"I didn't do this for me,” he said.
"I did it for all of my teammates who didn't have a premiership yet and for all of the positive people at Brothers. They make it easy to do your job.”
Conlon is looking forward to spending more time with wife Kerri and his young family, and working on his golf game throughout the off-season. Opponents will be less than thrilled to hear the star has committed for another campaign and will be back in blue and white next season.
Larrikin Brothers halfback Ryan Brown collected the Reserve grade player of the year honour and Dion Tavita-Matavale claimed the under-20s gong to cap the Raceview club's dominance of the major senior awards.
Fassifern's Michael Hayes was named Senior Coach of the Year for guiding the Bombers to within a field goal of the title as captain/coach of reserve grade.
Parker said the enormity of Conlon's efforts throughout the season meant he was impossible to overlook for the competition's highest accolade. He said Brown had proven himself a capable leader over many seasons of senior football, while he lauded Hayes' long-term devotion to the Fassifern club and his ability to unite his teammates during a spirited run to the finals.
Queensland Rugby League Chairman Bruce Hatcher stressed the need for all involved at a grass roots level to band together in the face of challenges and he commended Swifts on reaching its centenary.
"Any club that gets to 100 years has done a lot of things right,” he said.
"I'm always fascinated to look at the history and see the people of significant influence on our business, our communities and on the great game of rugby league. On behalf of Queensland Rugby League, congratulations to Swifts. We share your pride and we wish you all of the best for another 100 years.”
South-east Queensland Rugby League chairman Brad Tallon said it was exciting times for the game locally, with the state's first full-time club support person to commence in Ipswich next Monday.
He said it was sad to see clubs facing difficult times but the QRL was committed to working with them to ensure sustainability. He also noted the leading role Ipswich was playing in developing the women's game and said the region punched well above its weight in producing volunteers as he thanked everyone who made an auspicious season possible.
State of Play
Rugby League Ipswich Awards 2019: A-grade player of the year - Wesley Conlon; Reserve grade player of the year - Ryan Brown; Under-20 player of the year - Dion Tavita-Matavale; Senior representative player of the year - Josh Afoa; Senior coach of the year - Michael Hayes.