Pocock wins John Eales Medal - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pocock wins John Eales Medal

Adrian Warren 21/10/2010 11:11:24 PM Comments (0)

David Pocock's importance to the Wallabies was underlined on Thursday when his teammates voted the openside flanker a landslide winner of the prestigious John Eales Medal.

The 22-year-old Western Force back-rower polled 269 votes to finish well clear of inside centre and last year's winner, Matt Giteau (193), five-eighth Quade Cooper (146) and captain and blindside flanker Rocky Elsom (138).

Pocock held just a three-point lead over Giteau heading into Australia's six-match Tri-Nations campaign.

But his outstanding form through the tournament made him a runaway winner of the award, which is voted on by all 22 Wallabies game-day members over a 15-Test period stretching back to last year's spring tour.

Pocock was just one of three players, along with Elsom and tighthead prop Salesi Ma'afu, to start all 10 Wallabies Tests so far this year.

The Zimbabwean-born forward also topped the public poll for the Wallaby of the Year.

Pocock took over the starting No.7 jersey on the 2009 spring tour from George Smith and his foraging and ball pilfering at the breakdown has made him almost as indispensable as the Brumbies legend.

Another dual winner in Thursday's awards in Sydney was talented back Kurtley Beale.

The Waratahs star was named Rookie of the Year and also earned Try of the Year honours for his contribution to James O'Connor's spectacular five-pointer against South Africa in Pretoria.

Beale, 21, made his Wallabies debut off the bench on the 2009 spring tour.

He cemented a regular starting spot at fullback, occupying that position in Australia's past four Tests.

James Stannard won the Sevens Player of the Year Award in recognition of his efforts in leading Australia to their first IRB World Series tournament victory in eight years and starring in the team's silver medal effort at the recent Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Among the other award winners were Robbie Coleman (under-20 player of the year), Sharni Williams (women's player of the year) and Stuart Dickinson (referee of the year).

Pocock expressed appreciation for how much he had learnt from Smith, a two-time John Eales Medallist.

"I learnt a lot from him and I guess now that he's retired I've had a lot more opportunities," Pocock said upon receiving the Medal.

However, the nuggety backrower stressed he still hadn't reached Smith's level and that of his long-time rival Phil Waugh.

"I don't think so, they are really big shoes to fill," Pocock said.

While appreciative of the public award he received, Pocock stressed it was his peers' endorsement that meant the most.

"That's why you play the game, that's where you get the enjoyment, is playing with your mates, their opinion means the most," he said.

His next assignment will be on Saturday week, when he again locks horns with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, the man Pocock regards as the benchmark amongst current openside flankers.

"I always look forward to playing Richie and it's always a challenge against the All Blacks."

Pocock said that the Spring Tour starting next week would be a tough campaign and that it would give opportunities to a lot of players.

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