In a tough 2020 year for the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership competition, there were some standout performances for many players in the competition.
With no state side to play for, the players were left to show their wares week to week, and I would like to introduce the stand out performers in each position.
Fullback – Kainoa Gudgeon – Joondalup Giants
The newly crowned Ken Allen Medallist for 2020, Kainoa is a worthy recipient. Although being experimented at certain stages in the halves this year, Kai is a devastating fullback. Strong and fast, Kainoa is a tough proposition to tackle at the best of times, and his willingness to put his body on the line and play direct sets him apart from many of his competitors. A strong defender, he doesn’t mind doing the tough stuff either, and can smell an opportunity from a mile away.
Winger – Luke Turner – Joondalup Giants
“Shreddah” as he is affectionately known is an athlete who can play rugby league. A proud indigenous man, he is a multi sport athlete and generally excels at anything he tries his hand at. While he has been playing lots of different sports in the last few years, he returned to rugby league with the Giants this year and had a cracking season. A noted try scorer, he is ultra strong and possesses a deadly stiff arm as well as a turn of acceleration that would make professional sprinters jealous.
Centre – Rangiwanaga Kingi – Joondalup Giants
Quiet and reserved, Kingi isn’t much for talking, and would rather let his form on the field speak for him. A silent assassin, Kingi is a fitness fanatic and an incredibly hard mark in the centres. He works hard in every game, and while quiet, is a great communicator defensively on the field and his combination with Luke Turner set the stage for some brilliant offensive and defensive plays this season. It only seems fitting that the two of them make the team together as a part of Joondalup’s lethal left hand side.
Five-Eight – Eddie Proudler – South Perth Lions
A highly gifted playmaker, Proudlers biggest attribute is his ultra-competitiveness. Talking non-stop before, during and after games, he is a headache for defences and refereeing groups alike. Being unlucky with injuries, Eddie hasn’t let that stop him make his mark in this competition, and consistently ranks in the top halves to play the game. With a great show and go and a strong kicking game, he is the perfect on field general. A strong defender, he will be a key cog in the South Perth Lions club for many years to come.
Halfback – Tyler Hunt – Rockingham Sharks
It was a return of the prodigal son in some ways this year, and Tyler definitely made his mark. The Sharks best in the grand final, he was in everything that day. At home at fullback or halfback, do not let his small stature fool you. Willing for work, he will often take 2 or 3 hit ups a set to help out his team mates, and is incredibly strong for his size. With ankle-breaking footwork, teams had to be on their guard for 80 minutes when Tyler was on the field. A legacy player for the Sharks, the world is his Oyster and, at the tender age of 20, has the world at his feet.
Hooker – Andrew Jeffery – Rockingham Sharks
In 2012 a no named, no nonsense hooker showed up at the Rockingham Sharks training just looking to play some Rugby League. 8 years later, the runner up to this years Ken Allen Medallist has earned plenty of admirers here in Western Australia. Incredibly fit, Andrew never goes away in games. While not the flashiest player in the world, he is a lovable larrikin from years gone by. A good man to have by your side, on or off the field, Jeffery’s is a true Rugby League player. An efficient passer, and can kick and provide a scything run, he is a defensive rock.
Prop – Nathan Searle – Joondalup Giants
This year’s Ron Hudson medallist, “Searley” is another of our games all time characters. With the ability to play full games in the front row, he can still manage to talk, sledge and laugh all the way through games. While admitting his form has not been up to scratch in years gone by, his goal was to be ultra fit and firing in 2020 and by all accounts he achieved his goal. Even after 105 minutes in a grand final he was still taking 2 hit ups in a set, and while the legs were gone, the heart and mind were continuing to will him forward.
Second Row – Mason Hiko – South Perth Lions
Underrated in years gone by, this former prop decided to try his hand a little wider out this year, and it paid incredible dividends. With the long hair flowing he was a man apart in his ability this year. Incredibly skilful, and much quicker than he looks, his work ethic in 2020 compared to years gone by was astronomical. Possessing a great offload, Mason is one part of South Perth’s incredible backrow, which includes the next player and last year’s Ken Allen Medallist, Daniel Green. A complete gentleman off the field, his movie star good looks make him the complete package.
Lock – Jarred Smith – South Perth Lions
A hugely respected player, Jarred constantly rates highly among his peers as someone you want next to you on the field. Courageous and playing miles above his weight, he puts his body on the line in every run and tackle he is a part of, and shows no fear. You can constantly see him barrelling into the opposition, and will never take a backward step on the field. Part of the deadly Lions backrow, Jarred is what ties the Lions team together. A deft ball player in his own right, his ability to take the ball deep into the line with no thought of self-preservation says it all.
Coach – John Harbin – Joondalup Giants
One More Round. It became a catch phrase synonymous with the Joondalup Giants season this year, and John epitomises this and expects his players to do the same. There are no shortcuts with John and he lives and breathes his commitment to his team and his players. Spending countless hours organising training, watching game video, calling and checking players and other staff, John always has his fingers on the pulse. A deeply caring man, he cares about all his charges and constantly keeps in contact with everyone he has ever been involved with. A special mention to his offsider Andy Walker, these two men turned the Giants around in 2020 in a huge way.
Images Thanks to Total Sports Photography