Fijian rookie sensation Isi Naisarani has taken out the Road Safety Western Force’s top individual honour, winning the 2017 Nathan Sharpe Medal at the club’s annual awards night at Crown Perth this evening.
In the other awards on the club’s night of nights, rookie scrumhalf Michael Ruru took out the Matt Hodgson Rising Star Award following a spectacular debut season, with the award renamed in honour of the inaugural player and retiring club legend.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau’s outstanding first season in the blue jersey was recognised by the members, taking out the Members’ MVP ahead of 2016 winner Dane Haylett-Petty.
Centre Bill Meakes’ incredible contribution to the club both on and off the field saw the Wallaby squad member awarded the Geoffrey Stooke Force Man Award.
The Nathan Sharpe Medal caps off an astonishing year for 22-year-old Naisarani, who becomes the first player in the history of the Western Australian club to win the medal in their first year of professional rugby.
The Nathan Sharpe Medal is determined by each member of the match day 23 voting for their peers on a 3, 2, 1 basis.
Naisarani featured in all 15 of the Force’s fixtures this season with 10 appearances in the starting XV at both No.8 and blindside flanker. The talented backrower burst onto the Super Rugby scene this season, tallying a team high 126 runs, 662 run metres, 22 tackle busts and 108 tackles.
In a show of his incredible consistency, Naisarani polled votes in 13 of the clubs 15 matches to finish with a tally of 180 votes, ahead of Wallabies Adam Coleman (130) and Tatafu Polota-Nau (126) in second and third place respectively.
Young lock Matt Philip led Naisarani by 12 votes halfway through the count before going down with a foot injury that opened the door for the Fijian flyer to move into the lead, a position he would not relinquish for the rest of the season.
2017 Nathan Sharpe Medal Dinner – Award Winners
Nathan Sharpe Medal: Isi Naisarani
Members’ MVP: Tatafu Polota-Nau
Geoffrey Stooke Force Man Award: Bill Meakes
Rising Star: Michael Ruru
2017 Nathan Sharpe Medal – Top Five
Isi Naisarani – 180 votes
Adam Coleman – 130 votes
Tatafu Polota-Nau – 126 votes
Bill Meakes – 111 votes
Alex Newsome – 105 votes
Nathan Sharpe Medal – Honour Roll
2017 – Isi Naisarani
2016 – Dane Haylett-Petty
2015 – Ben McCalman
2014 – Matt Hodgson
2013 – Kyle Godwin
2012 – David Pocock
2011 – David Smith
2010 – Matt Hodgson
2009 – Matt Hodgson
2008 – Ryan Cross
2007 – Matt Giteau
2006 – Scott Staniforth