Schatz chosen as Queensland's best
August 30, 2013
Jake Schatz pipped fellow backrower Liam Gill to take out the Pilecki Medal © Getty Images
Ultra-consistent Jake Schatz has been rewarded for his best Super Rugby season by becoming the second No.8 behind Toutai Kefu to win the Queensland Reds' Pilecki Medal. Schatz pipped back-row partner Liam Gill to be crowned Queensland's best player of 2013 at the Reds' Gala Ball on Friday night.
A surprise winner over Gill and Wallabies prop James Slipper, the 23-year-old Wallabies squad member polled 269 votes from team-mates on a 3-2-1 basis after each match. Gill finished on 262 and 2012 Pilecki Medallist Slipper polled 227, as forwards dominated the voting in a season built on rugged defence and breakdown efficiency rather than the attacking precision of previous years under Ewen McKenzie.
Scrum-half Will Genia (125), who missed five games, was the only back to finish in the top eight, while playmaker Quade Cooper failed to make the top 10 despite playing all 17 matches.
"Any award voted on by your peers is the one you cherish the most, and it's great to see Jake rewarded by his team-mates," said coach Richard Graham, who takes the reins from McKenzie in 2014. Former Reds captain and enforcer Kefu was the most recent No.8 to win the award in 2001.
Schatz was also named the fifth-placed Reds' most improved player by Queensland's coaches for his consistency and a purple patch midway through the competition, highlighted by his display in the upset win over the defending champion Chiefs in Hamilton.
Wallabies openside flanker Gill, a stand-out figure in the first two months of the year, was the People's Choice award winner. Back-rowers took out all the major awards at the Brisbane Convention Centre, with Australia Under-20 captain Curtis Browning named Rookie of the Year and Jarrad Butler winning the Spirit of the Reds award.
Former Wallabies skippers John Eales and Mark Loane were among 11 former players to be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame, which also included Michael Lynagh, Tim Horan and Paul McLean.
Queensland also announced the senior 30-man squad for next season, with rising Auckland-bred fullback Jamie-Jerry Taulagi taking the final spot.
Pilecki Medal: Jake Schatz 269, Liam Gill 262, James Slipper 227, Greg Holmes 206, Will Genia 125, Ed Quirk 117, Rob Simmons 105, Saia Faingaa 103, Rod Davies 100, Digby Ioane 100.
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures