John Palavi has capped an outstanding first season for the Ben Campbell Building Group Tweed Heads Seagulls by winning the club’s best and fairest award at the annual awards dinner held at Seagulls on Friday night.
Palavi, the former NZ Warriors player signed this season from Norths Brisbane, took over the captaincy from last year’s award winner Cheyne Whitelaw who suffered a second ACL injury mid-season, and led the Ben Woolf-coached side to their first finals appearance since 2014.
The tough and consistent prop – who is set to stay for a second season on the Tweed – was humble in accepting the major award of the night, the Col Murphy Trophy, thanking his teammates for accepting him as a senior player and leader.
“I am very fortunate that this close-knit playing group accepted me coming from Norths and I am so proud of the way we finished the season, making the finals and fighting right to the end of the semi against Redcliffe,” he said.
“I think we have a lot of improvement still in us and hopefully the team can stay together and go further next year.”
Palavi was a tremendous contributor up front, averaging 111 metres and 10 hit-ups a game, making 41 tackle busts for the season, and averaging 24 tackles at an efficiency of an outstanding 91 per cent.
“JP was a massive addition to our team; so tough, consistent and durable and a natural leader in the team,” said coach Woolf.
“His positive attitude was a big influence on out improved performance and he has the respect of everyone.”
Utility back Talor Walters, who scored 14 tries after starting at fullback and playing the last third of the season on the right wing, was the players’ player for 2019 while high-workrate forward Kirk Murphy won the coach’s award.
Around 150 people celebrated the Seagulls’ much-improved season that saw all three men’s teams – ISC, Colts and Mal Meninga Cup – make the finals, with the under-18s going on to snare the national championships trophy after beating the NSW Jersey Flegg Cup winners Illawarra.
Tweed’s inaugural women’s team beat defending premiers Burleigh Bears and had second-rower Jessika Elliston play for Queensland’s State of Origin team and then be joined by halfback Tarryn Aiken (pictured left) in the Broncos NRLW squad.
Australian Schoolboys and Queensland under-18s rep Brendan Piakura, signed by the Broncos, was the under-18s players’ player with Titans-bound Juwan Compain taking the coach’s award.
The Colts’ award winners were Ben Thomas (players’ player) who took home the Craig Farrugia award in honour of the late club stalwart, while Callum Boomer won the coach’s award.
The Seagulls had players in all Queensland representative sides in 2019, and no less than 12 members of Tim Maccan’s Mal Meninga Cup squad have agreements with NRL clubs, showing what an outstanding pathway the Titans’ feeder club has become.
Award winners for 2019:
Intrust Super Cup
Col Hayes Trophy for best and fairest: John Palavi
Players’ player: Talor Walters
Coach’s award: Kirk Murphy
Hastings Deering Colts Cup (under-20)
Players’ player: Ben Thomas
Coach’s award: Callum Boomer
Auswide Mal Meninga Cup (under-18)
Craig Farrugia players’ player award: Brendan Piakura
Coach’s award: Juwan Compain
SE Qld division one women:
Players’ player: Tarryn Aiken
Coach’s award: Serena Martin
Club person of the year: Gavin Holmes