Sean McMahon adds to accolades as Newcomer of the Year

By Pete Fairbairn, 19.11.14

Adding to an already long list of accolades, Sean McMahon was voted by peers as this year's Newcomer of the Year.

The Newcomer Award is presented to the player who has achieved excellence in their first full year as a professionally contracted Australian Rugby player both on and off the field.

RUPA’s Player Development Managers, who work within each of the five Australian Super Rugby team to assist players in all aspects of off-field support, nominate one candidate from their team. Within their nomination form they describe both the on-field and off-field highlights and achievements for that player, including community service and educational feats.

Sean is currently enrolled in a Diploma of Business. He has completed several hours of community service work as part of the 5-Star engagement program, which saw him attend the Royal Children’s hospital handing out teddy bears to children and presenting jerseys to local rugby teams.

On the field, Sean has had a meteoric rugby season in 2014, with headlines boasting his progression from Super Rugby, through the Buildcorp NRC, the Australian Men’s Sevens bronze medal Commonwealth Games campaign, captain of the Australian Under 20s, and recently being heralded to pull on the gold jersey at the highest level of Australian rugby.

It’s hard to imagine that the 20-year-old made his Super Rugby debut for the Melbourne Rebels in round one of the tournament just this year. He starred in 13 games for his Victorian side, running on to start in six.

His Super Rugby stats show he made 100 tackles, amounting to an impressive 92% tackle success, made an average of 1.3 turnovers and 1.5 tackle busts per game and had 89% breakdown accuracy.

Rebels Coach Tony McGahan has remarked on Sean’s innate ability to lead in training and in games.

Previous winners of the Newcomer of the Year include Berrick Barnes, David Pocock, Ben Lucas, Laurie Weeks, Pat McCabe, Ben Tapuai, Joe Tomane and Israel Folau.

With the advent of the Buildcorp NRC in 2014, the competition for the award has been severely boosted, with many a new player stepping up an showing their potential both on and off the field.

Sean was announced the winner of the award after topping player's votes amongst four other strong finalists, listed below.

Samu Kerevi – Queensland Reds

In 2014 Samu completed a Diploma of Business through the Australian Vocational Training Academy and a Certificate IV in mentoring diverse groups through Mission Australia. Samu is interested in furthering his education in Business and Tourism.

Born and raised in Fiji, Samu is an ambassador for the Pacific Islander Community Engagement Project, an initiative of The Queensland Government, in partnership with the Queensland Rugby Union to increase capacity and sustainability of local sport.

Samu’s nomination stated that he was a player committed to consistently delivering 100%, understanding that anything short of this comprises his development and ultimately the team’s ability, a facet recognised both by Staff and his peers at the Reds.

If there was one name that was mentioned on multiple occasions throughout the inaugural Buildcorp NRC, it was that of Brisbane City’s Samu Kerevi. Samu ran out firing from the very first game of the tournament, with an instrumental performance for his Brisbane counterparts, putting hopeful smiles on the faces of many Queensland Rugby fans in the Ballymore stands that night.

Prior to this, Kerevi had made his Super Rugby debut off the bench in round 16 of the tournament against the Highlanders. He later made his run-on debut during round 18 against the Western Force, a game which saw him score his first Super Rugby try after an inspiring effort that included four line breaks, eight tackle busts, two offloads and 152 metres from 12 runs.

There’s no doubting the 108kg, 21-year-old has and will continue to add some much desired muscle to the Reds backline.

Taqele Naiyaravoro – NSW Waratahs

Taqele is studying his Certificate III and IV in Fitness, both of which he is schedule to finish by early next year. He has been involved in a number of team related community activities, including training events for sponsors and juniors clinics. Taqele is also a proud representative of the Sydney Fijian Community within the Waratahs.

He has been described as an individual with a positive attitude and friendly smile. Since joining the Waratahs this year, he has proven himself to be a player of immense talent and potential who has proven to be a fast learner and keen to improve.

Taqele joined the NSW Super Rugby side mid-way through the 2014 Super Rugby season following stand-out performances for the Parramatta Two Blues in Sydney’s Shute Shield after switching from the NRL’s West Tigers.

Taqele played in five games for the Waratahs during the 2014 season, making his debut against South Africa’s Lions at Allianz Stadium in round 14. In just his first season, Taqele showed the form that plucked him from Club levels, scoring his first Super Rugby try against New Zealand’s Highlanders in round 18 of the competition for the Tahs.

At 23 years of age, the powerful 123kg winger also represented the Greater Sydney Rams in this year’s Buildcorp NRC.

JP Smith – Brumbies

In what has been a year full of successes, JP completed a Diploma of Management (Business) with the Australian Vocational Training Academy (AVTA) in Canberra. He also finished his Diploma of Sport Development with the Eagle Academy in Brisbane that he had commenced back in 2012 during his two years there with GPS.

With a career goal of becoming a qualified Primary School Teacher, JP has accomplished his first online unit as part of his Bachelor of Education (Primary Education) course through the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

During 2014 JP, with twin brother Ruan, made regular visits at local Primary School, The Ainslie School, to assist students as part of an Emotional Literacy Program. JP has also been involved in the Brumbies’ ACTEWAGL Country visits, McDonalds Charity Days and the Buddy a Brumby program.

Hailing from South Africa and playing his junior rugby years there, JP became a formidable force for the Brumbies this year and has continued to prove as a supportive team member, demonstrating a strong commitment to the side.

After starting out as “the shadow” to his twin brother and Brumbies teammate, Ruan, JP went on to make 12 appearances for the Brumbies in his first Super Rugby season, starting in three and making the other nine off the bench. Relishing the opportunity, the young prop has proven he has both the strength and ability to mix with the big boys in the front.

Adam Coleman – Western Force

A former Hobart Tigers Rugby League Player, Adam Coleman was School Captain at New Town Highschool in Tasmania. His father and first cousin are both former Tongan Rugby Union captains. Another cousin of Coleman’s is Classic Wallaby, Rodney Blake.

He had been offered a contract in Rugby League, but decided to turn down the offer to chase his dream in Union. Having previously been a member of the Brumbies Academy squad, before his stint at the Tahs and three seasons with Parramatta in Sydney’s Shute Shield, Coleman has since found his home in Western Australia. He represented the Force ‘A’ side in just one match before earning his first Super Rugby appearance this year.

Coleman played in all but one game for the Western Force in 2014, five of which he started. He made his debut for the Western Force in round 3 against the Rebels, starting off the bench. His Super Rugby debut had, however, come a year earlier when he ran on for the Waratahs, ironically against the Force.

Coleman had an impressive first full season with the Force. Defensively, he made 86 tackles, a rate of 93.5%, and made 7 forced turnovers. In attack he made 37 runs for 173 metres.

To top off a commendable year for the sturdy lock, Adam was presented with the 2014 Rising Star Award at the Force’s annual Nathan Sharpe Medal event.

Pete Fairbairn
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