Bond University outside back Rhian Stowers has today been named the 2023 Alec Evans Medallist while Sunnybank scrumhalf Ana Afuie has won the 2023 Selena Worsley Medal at the annual Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final Breakfast at the Queensland University of Technology’s Room Three Sixty.
Stowers is the third player from Bond University to win the Alec Evans Medal as the Player of the Year in the StoreLocal Hospital Cup, while Afuie is the first Sunnybank Premier Women's winner since Ivania Wong in 2019.
Voted by the Queensland Rugby Referee Association (QRRA) throughout the season on a 3-2-1 basis, Stowers topped the tally with 19 votes, followed by Easts scrumhalf Eli Pilz (18 votes) and Souths flanker and captain Kohan Herbert (16), who rounded out the podium.
Stowers polled votes in seven of his 16 games, including five three-vote performances in the Bullsharks’ record-setting 2023 season which included the club's first ever Keith Horsley Trophy as minor premiers and the club’s first Thomas Welsby Cup.
Stowers returned to Bond University ahead of the 2023 season to play with his teammates once again after stints playing rugby league with the Southport Tigers in 2022 and a stint with Shute Shield outfit Eastwood.
His return to the StoreLocal Hospital Cup saw him rank equal fifth in the competition for tries and seventh overall for points. He also ranked first for defenders beaten and second for line breaks.
His kicking game quickly became his one-wood and an asset for Bond on the field, executing more field kicks than all but one player while also ranking equal first for 50:22s.
A Samoan international at XVs and 7s level, Afuie played a key role in the talented Sunnybank team that went undefeated throughout the home-and-away season.
In all, Afuie played 15 games in which she scored 67 points – ranked seventh in the competition – as a dependable back that was comfortable operating in multiple positions across the field.
Afuie is also a former Queensland Red and was named in the Hurricanes Poua squad for the inaugural season of Super Rugby Aupiki. She will line up for Sunnybank this weekend in the QPR Premier Women Grand Final against Bond University.
Afuie said: "I'm really grateful for it. It's a good feeling and I'm thankful for the award.
"The girls are pumped for the game on Sunday."
This morning's breakfast reaped many rewards for Bond, who claimed the Keith Horsley Trophy as minor premiers and Thomas Welsby Cup – awarded to the winner of 1v2 at the halfway point of the season.
Brothers also enjoyed success, claiming the Geoff ‘Bunter’ Shaw Challenge Cup or 'Bunter Bowl' and the Doughty Shield after winning the Club Championship.
Hamish Roberts was rewarded for his strong 2023 season as the StoreLocal Hospital Cup’s top scorer with 168 points while GPS speedster Veresa Mataitini claimed the competition’s top try scorer with 14 five-pointers this year.
Souths lock Jake Kurbatoff was named the Under 20s Player of the Year following a consistent season for the Magpies who earned minor premier honours in the Colts One competition.
2023 Queensland Premier Rugby Award Winners
Top point scorer | 168 points: Hamish Roberts, Bond University
Top try scorer | 14 tries: Veresa Mataitini, GPS
Andrew Cole Medal – Premier Referee of the Year | George Myers and James Palmer
Keith Horsley Trophy – Minor Premiership | Bond University
Thomas Welsby Cup – Winner of 1v2 from Round | Bond University
Geoff ‘Bunter’ Shaw Challenge Cup or Bunter Bowl | Brothers
Doughty Shield – Club Championship | Brothers
U20s Player of the Year | Jake Kurbatoff | Souths
Selena Worsley Medal (Women's Player of the Year) | Ana Afuie, Sunnybank
Alec Evans Medal (Hospital Cup Player of the Year) | Rhian Stowers, Bond University
Alec Evans Medal Top 5
1st – Rhian Stowers = Bond University
2nd - Eli Pilz – Easts
3rd - Kohan Herbert – Souths
4th - Lawson Creighton – Brothers
=5th - Brad Twidale – UQ
=5th - Lachlan Connors – Bond University