Israel Folau has claimed the 2018 Matthew Burke Cup despite missing a month of Super Rugby this year.
Folau’s win ends Michael Hooper’s run of five straight trophies dating back to 2013 and came after both battled injuries this year.
The fullback was not present to collect his award on Thurssday night, having booked a holiday to Melbourne this week before leaving for the Wallabies’ South Africa-Argentina tour.
Folau booked the trip without knowing he had won the cup, with no player told who had won before the event.
He is yet to re-sign with the Waratahs but is expected to ink a new deal in coming weeks.
A hamstring injury sidelined Folau for three matches in April before he was suspended for the Waratahs’ first match after the June Series.
Hooper missed the final month of the season with his own hamstring problems, opening the door for Folau to nab the win with 99 votes over his skipper (77).
Folau was dominant when he played for the Waratahs, with 11 tries in 14 matches this year and second in Super Rugby for offloads.
Backrow workhorse Michael Wells finished third in count, ahead of Kurtley Beale and mammoth winger Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Beale and Wells took out the best back and forward awards, respectively, as well as finishing in the top five.
Wallaroos veteran Ash Hewson took out the women’s award after the inaugural Super W season that culminated in an epic grand final.
Rookie prop Harry Johnson-Holmes won the Chris Whitaker Aspiring Waratah Medal after a breakout Super Rugby season in 2018.
Matthew Burke Cup
1. Israel Folau (99 points)
2. Michael Hooper (77)
3. Michael Wells (71)
4. Kurtley Beale (65)
5. Taqele Naiyaravoro (64)
NSW women’s standings
1. Ash Hewson (61 points)
2. Ariana Kaiwai (29)
3. Coby-Jane Morgan (22)
4. Grace Hamilton (20)
5. Chloe Leaupepe (15)
Chris Whitaker Aspiring Waratah Medal
NSW Waratahs Best Back
NSW Waratahs Best Forward
Volunteer of the Year (Youth)
Dan Leadley (Maitland Blacks)
Volunteer of the Year (Seniors)
The Camden Rugby Club Chain Gang
Rugby Young Community Match Official of the Year
Todd Cummings (Graystanes High School)
Rugby Community Match Official of the Year
Ian Mooney (Sydney West Rugby Referees Association)
Community Coach of the Year (Youth)
Greg Wyatt-Spratt (Hunters Hill)
Community Coach of the Year (Female)
Sarah Laman (Epping Boys’ High School)
Community Coach of the Year (Seniors)
Tom Cullen (Coonamble Rams Club)
Spirit of Rugby – Girls Player of the Year
Abby Holmes (University of Wollongong)
Spirit of Rugby – Boys Player of the Year
Finn Graham (St Joseph’s College)
Spirit of Rugby – Colts Player of the Year
Jack Radford (Northern Suburbs Club)
Matthew Street Shield (for the best and fairest player at the National Schools Championship)
Joey Walton (Wadalba High School )
David Dennis Youth Development Player of the Year
Josh Kemeny (Sydney University)
Will Tanner Medal for the NSW Country Player of the Year
Kentwell Medal for the NSW Suburban Representative Player of the Year
Charlie Gamble (Petersham)
Ken Catchpole Medal for the NSW Premiership Player of the Year
Adrian Musico (Parramatta)
Club of the Year
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