The Queensland Premier Rugby and StoreLocal Hospital Cup individual and team award winners for 2022 were announced this morning at the annual Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final breakfast.
The morning belonged to Wests, who walked away with the Welsby Cup and Keith Horsley Trophy as the minor premiers, while Premier Grade stalwart Connor Anderson was named the Alec Evans Medallist for 2022 and women’s star Alana Elisaia was the inaugural recipient of the Selena Worsley Medal.
Introduced in 2022, the Selena Worsley Medal will be awarded to the Women’s competition’s player of the season.
“I’m shocked, it’s a big achievement and it’s really great to have women recognised, I’m just really grateful,” said Elisaia.
“Having the Selena Worsley and Cheyenne Campbell Medals introduced, I look up to both these women so to be one of the first recipients is really special. I thought I was just coming for breakfast,” she joked.
The Alec Evans Medal, fittingly named after the man who was head coach of the Bulldogs the last time they faced UQ in a Grand Final in 1985, is a just reward for Anderson who has been one of the most consistent performers throughout the 2022 StoreLocal Hospital Cup season.
“It’s a bit of a shock, it means a lot, but it is credit to the coaches and the team environment,” said Anderson.
“It’s an individual award but it’s just as much a team award for me.”
Wests haven’t won let alone appeared in a Grand Final since 2006, and the hype around the current group leading into Sunday’s decider at Suncorp Stadium is exciting for Wests fans young and old.
“16 years is a long time, there is definitely a buzz around the place. A lot of folks are excited for us.”
“We’re a really tight group, I love coming to Wests three nights a week because the environment is so good, we’re a bunch of guys who want to get the job done.”
While Wests are buoyed by the support from their Rugby community, head coach Elwee Prinsloo is under no illusions of the challenge that lies ahead.
University of Queensland have been a dominant force in Premier Rugby since Mick Heenan took over as head coach. Since 2010 Heenan has helped guide the Students to six premierships, with a potential seventh, in UQ’s seventh straight Grand Final appearance, on the line this Saturday.
“Heeno (Mick Heenan) is an exceptional coach, probably the most successful coach in Australian Club Rugby,” said Prinsloo.
“They have a good team, plenty of finals experience, we’re going in as underdogs.
“Taking nothing away from UQ, they are fit and do the basics well, they will be tough to stop but we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a key driver for us to get the job done for the people behind the scenes at the club, like out president Graham Brown and team manager Felicity Bennetts, as well as our families.”
The Grand Final clash between Wests and University of Queensland kicks off at 3:15pm on Sunday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium. Tickets are available via: https://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=QRUCHAMP22
The match will also be broadcast LIVE via 9Gem and Stansport.