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Hooper wins players' award

Thursday, August 28, 2014

SYDNEY - He missed out on the Bledisloe Cup last weekend, but Wallabies captain Michael Hooper added to his bulging portfolio of individual accolades by winning a second straight, NSW Waratahs Players' Player of the year award on Tuesday.

Openside flanker Hooper, who led NSW to their maiden Super Rugby title following a late season knee injury to first-choice skipper and fellow back rower Dave Dennis, polled 277 votes.,

In the count for the Matthew Burke Cup, 22-year-old Hooper finished 20 votes ahead of No.8 Wycliff Palu (257), the only other player to have won the award in consecutive seasons.

Palu won the Waratahs Forward of the Year, while hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (219) completed the pack's domination of the placings by finishing third in the count determined by votes cast after each of the Waratahs' Super games, including the finals.

Outside centre Adam Ashley-Cooper (162) finished fourth and won the Best Back award, while a fifth Wallaby, five-eighth Bernard Foley (158), rounded out the top five.

Foley was the fans' favourite, shading Hooper for the Members' Choice Player of the Year.

The competition for awards was so hot that prolific try-scoring full-back Israel Folau didn't make the top ten of the Players' Player or top five of the Members' Choice counts.

Three days after Australia was condemned to a 12th straight year without winning the Bledisloe Cup, Hooper continued his remarkable run of individual awards over the past three seasons.

In 2012, he was the Wallabies and Australian Super Rugby Rookie of the Year and was named Best Forward at the Brumbies.

Last year, in addition to winning the Waratahs award in his first season with the franchise, he won the Australian Super 15 Player of the Year and was the runaway winner of the John Eales Medal.

In other awards handed out at the function in Sydney, Dennis won the Waratah Medal for on and off-field performance and departing winger Alofa Alofa won the Aspiring Waratah Medal.

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