In the hunt for the 2015 Newcomer of the Year are two wingers, a scrumhalf, a lock and a hooker, all in the running to follow in the footsteps of 2014 winner, back rower Sean McMahon (Melbourne Rebels). Each of the nominees showed tremendous promise across their campaigns, both in Super Rugby and in the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC).
2015 Newcomer of the Year Nominees
Rory Arnold (Brumbies), 2015 Super Rugby: 15 matches, 5 points. 2015 NRC: 9 matches, 10 points
Towering second rower Rory Arnold was named as the Rookie of the Year at the John Eales Medal event in August, after the 25 year old had an outstanding maiden Super Rugby campaign for the Brumbies.
Rory played fifteen matches, starting fourteen and averaging nearly an hour on the paddock, and scored his first professional Rugby try against the Western Force in Canberra. He played all bar one of the UC Vikings’ games during their run to this year’s Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) Final, and was a member of the Wallabies’ 31-man training squad for The Rugby Championship.
Ryan Louwrens (Western Force), 2015 Super Rugby: 7 matches, 10 points. 2015 NRC: 6 matches, 15 points
Western Force scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens had a breakthrough season in 2015, playing his first seven Super Rugby matches including four starts and scoring tries against the Blues in Auckland, in his starting debut, and then in the Force’s 18-11 win against the Waratahs at nib Stadium in Round Thirteen.
Louwrens also made six appearances for Perth Spirit in the NRC, scoring in their win against the Melbourne Rising.
Campbell Magnay (Reds), 2015 Super Rugby: 6 matches. 2015 NRC: 4 matches, 10 points
Campbell Magnay made his Super Rugby debut in Round One against the Brumbies this year. The red-headed eighteen year old centre/wing went on to make six appearances in his maiden professional campaign, a figure that is likely to have been higher had he not travelled to Italy for the World Rugby U20 Championships as a key member of the Australian side.
Magnay, who scored two tries in four appearances for Queensland Country in his second NRC campaign, was the second youngest Reds debutant of the professional era.
Sefanaia Naivalu (Rebels), 2015 Super Rugby: 13 matches, 20 points
23 year old Sefanaia Naivalu created history in late 2014 when, after a series of blistering performances for both the Box Hill Broncos and the Melbourne Rising, he became the first ever player to sign for the Melbourne Rebels directly from Victoria’s Premier Club Rugby competition, the Direct Connect Dewar Shield.
The explosive centre/winger continued to defy the odds when he cemented himself as a regular starter with the Rebels during his maiden Super Rugby campaign in 2015, before his season was cut short with a broken leg suffered in South Africa. ‘Super Sefa’ scored four tries, including the Rebels’ only try as they won their first ever match in Canberra against the Brumbies to celebrate Naivalu’s mentor Tamati Ellison’s 100th Super Rugby match. He was rewarded when he won the Rebels’ Try of the Year and People’s Choice Award.
Hugh Roach (Waratahs), 2015 Super Rugby: 5 matches. 2015 NRC: 3 matches
Waratahs hooker Hugh Roach’s second season of professional Rugby saw the young rake add five Super Rugby appearances to the two he accumulated in 2014. The former Australian Schoolboys (2009-2010) and Australian U20s (2011-2012) representative started on two occasions, and pushed teammates Tatafu Polota-Nau and Tolu Latu hard for a place in the match day 23 every week.
Waratahs scrum coach Mario Ledesma worked closely with Roach in 2015 and had a significant impact on his continued improvement, before Roach again represented the Greater Sydney Rams in the NRC.
The winner of the Newcomer of the Year award, presented by Allianz Stadium, will be announced at the 2015 RUPA Awards on Wednesday December 9th.
One player in their first full year as a professional is nominated by the Player Development Manager (PDM) of each Super Rugby team, with the winner voted on by Super Rugby players across each Australian team.