Easts Tigers Number 8 and former Wallabies captain Ben Mowen has today been named the Alec Evans Medalist for 2020 at the annual Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final breakfast at the Regatta Hotel.
Mowen, who returned to Easts late in 2019 after finishing his professional career in France, has captained the Tigers during the 2020 Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup and polled in the Alec Evans Medal votes in six of a possible eight matches.
Voted on by the Queensland Rugby Referee Association (QRRA) referees throughout the season, Mowen topped the tally with 14 points, followed by Connor Pritchard from Bond University in second on 8 points, whilst Tom Lucas (Sunnybank) and Eli Pilz (Easts) were tied on seven points.
“It was a really nice surprise,” said Mowen.
“I wasn’t expecting it, there has been some great performances from players this year, not just at Easts but across the competition.
“It was really special to receive the award from Alec. He was one of my dad’s first coaches as a junior and then when I came into the Reds Academy he was the head coach at the time. I was fortunate to have that quality of coaching from him and it’s special to receive the award named after him today.”
Easts head coach Moses Rauluni has praised Mowen for the impact he has had on the Easts squad this season.
“He has been outstanding, his professionalism and leadership has led the group down the right path and for us as coaches, we’ve learnt from his as well,” said Rauluni.
“We’ve loved having him as part of the team, he is great to work with and has been great with the players in terms of discipline and tactically he is a great worker. I can see why he captained his Country.”
Should Easts be successful in Sunday’s grand final, Rauluni believes it will be a fitting end to Mowen’s career, as he prepares to hang up the boots at the end of the season.
“That would be a fairy tale ending for Ben and all of us, what a great send off, for him to come back and play at Easts It shows his true character. He has always wanted to come back and play club Rugby and to finish with the Hospital Cup would be the icing on the cake.”
Easts will face the reigning premiers in Sunday’s grand final – University of Queensland – who are chasing back-to-back titles, a feat no club has achieved since Canberra were in the competition from 2001-2003.
The Tigers fell short of UQ in the major semi-final two weeks ago, and Mowen is aware of how well versed the Red Heavies are in finals Rugby, with head coach Mick Heenan boasting five titles under his tenure over the last decade.
“We got a lesson from UQ in the major semi-final around finals intensity, we’re fortunate to get that lesson and still be alive in the finals and we performed better against Bond, but we have to rise another level on Sunday,” said Mowen.
“You know what you’re going to get from UQ in a grand final, they’ll put in a huge performance.
“For our group we’re looking to build on the intensity and momentum we generated on the weekend in the preliminary final and carry that through to this weekend.
“You want to be in these big moments, you want to be in the moments where the pressure comes and a different level of intensity is required as that’s when you deliver your best performances and whoever wins on Sunday will be the side who delivers.”
Easts were also recognised at the breakfast with the club awarded the Horsley Cup for the minor premiership, scrumhalf Eli Pilz was named the top points scorer in the competition, and the Tigers also shared the Doughty Shield (Club Championship) with Brothers – the first time the Club Championship has finished in a draw in the competition’s history.
“I’m Super proud of the club, the management and volunteers at Easts, this has been a year like no other and for us as a whole, we had 10 sides in finals with six going through to grand finals,” said Mowen.
“Each team will be aiming to finish in the right way, it has been a rewarding year and special for the club as a whole but we’d like to finish the season with a win on Sunday.”
University of Queensland were recognised at the breakfast, awarded the Welsby Cup which they claimed in the major semi-final, while young Reds bolter Mac Grealy was awarded the U20s player of the year award.
GPS winger Josh Collins was also named the leading try-scorer for 2020, crossing for a total of eight tries during the regular season, whilst the club also claimed the Geoff ‘Bunter’ Shaw Challenge Cup for 2020.
Easts and University of Queensland will contest the 2020 Hospital Challenge Cup this Sunday, November 1, at Ballymore Stadium. Kick-off will be at 3:30pm AEST, and the match will be streamed live via the Qld.Rugby website and Rugby Xplorer mobile application.
2020 Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final Breakfast award winners:
Alec Evans Medal – Ben Mowen – Easts
U20s Player of the Year – Mac Grealy – University of Queensland
Highest Points Scorer – Eli Pilz – Easts
Top Try Scorer – Josh Collins – GPS
Welsby Cup – University of Queensland
Horsley Cup – Easts
Geoff ‘Bunter’ Shaw Challenge Cup – GPS
Doughty Shield – Easts and Brothers (shared)
Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Finals match schedule:
Saturday 31 Oct
8:10am - Colts 3 - Brothers v UQ
10:00am - Colts 2 - Brothers v UQ
11:50am - 5th Grade - Easts v Brothers
1:40pm - 4th Grade - Brothers v GPS
3:30pm - 3rd Grade - Brothers v Easts
Sunday 1 Nov
10:00am - Women - Easts v GPS
11:50am - Colts 1 - UQ v Brothers
1:40pm - Second Grade - Brothers v Easts
3:30pm - First Grade - Easts v UQ
Sunday’s matches will be live streamed via the Qld.Rugby website.