NSW VB Blues second-rower Josh Jackson has become the first Canterbury Bulldogs representative to claim the prestigious Brad Fittler Medal following an impressive State of Origin campaign in which he played all but 10 minutes of the series.
On a night that recognised the achievements of players across all NSWRL teams and competitions, from Origin to seniors, juniors, women and Indigenous, as well as the contributions of referees and club officials, Jackson accepted the state’s top award in front of more than 650 guests at Sydney’s The Star Event Centre.
Jackson polled the highest votes from fellow Blues teammates, as well as Coach Laurie Daley and his coaching staff. Previous winners include Josh Dugan (2015), Jarryd Hayne (2014), Paul Gallen (2011) and Danny Buderus (2008).
Daley said Jackson earned the accolade after his inspiring efforts across the series.
“Josh was one of our most consistent performers in all three games and he fully deserves the prestigious medal," he said.
"He is one of those guys that put in 100 per cent both at training and on the field and his performance throughout the series reflects that.
“Josh is made for Origin. He wears the NSW jersey with immense pride and he’s a great guy to have in the side. He will do just about anything for his teammates.”
St George Illawarra Dragons forward Tyson Frizell, one of eight debutants in 2016, won The Daily Telegraph People’s Choice Award, chosen by Blues supporters.
"Tyson was outstanding in the two games that he played for us. He took his opportunity with both hands and it's nice to see his efforts being rewarded with an award like the The Daily Telegraph People’s Choice Award," Daley said.
NSW VB Blues front-rower Aaron Woods, who ran more metres than any forward from both NSW and Queensland across the series, was presented with the True Blue Award for displaying qualities upon which the team culture is built.
“Aaron is great to have in camp. He shows true leadership qualities and displays a special kind of toughness on the field,” Daley said.
Origin stars shared the stage with some of the state’s rising talent as Penrith took out both major junior representative awards, with Lindsay Smith (under-16s) and Sean O’Sullivan (under-18s) completing the club duo for the 2016 season.
In the senior competitions, to be decided on NSWRL Grand Final Day at Pirtek Stadium later this month (26 September), Mounties halfback Sam Williams was crowned Intrust Super Premiership NSW Player of the Year, Brendan Waters (Western Suburbs Magpies) was named Ron Massey Cup Player of the Year and Jake Pickering (Peninsula Seagulls) claimed Sydney Shield’s Player of the Year.
“From the grassroots and women's Rugby League to the elite Origin level, the Brad Fittler Medal is a celebration of the success of Rugby League in NSW,” NSWRL CEO David Trodden said.
“Everyone who received an award tonight deserves to be acknowledged for their remarkable achievements. It’s a great reflection on the organisation and where it’s heading.”
Full list of award winners:
U16s NSW State Player of the Year - Lindsay Smith (Penrith Panthers)
U18s NSW State Player of the Year - Sean O’Sullivan (Penrith Panthers)
Junior Representative Referee of the Year - Jake Sutherland (Central Coast)
Grade Referee of the Year - Ryan Jackson (Illawarra)
Ray Stellar Award - Neil Lovett (Illawarra Cutters)
Kari Indigenous Achievement Award - Mathew Smith (Newcastle Knights)
Sydney Shield Player of the Year - Jake Pickering (Peninsula Seagulls)
Ron Massey Cup Player of the Year - Brendan Waters (Western Suburbs Magpies)
Intrust Super Premiership NSW Player of the Year - Sam Williams (Mounties)
U20s NSW State Player of the Year - Bayley Sironen (Wests Tigers)
Women’s NSW State Player of the Year - Kezie Apps (Helensburgh)
The Daily Telegraph People’s Choice Award - Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
True Blue Award - Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers)
Brad Fittler Medal Winner - Josh Jackson (Canterbury Bulldogs)