Outside of match days, the Ken Thornett Medal is the major event on the Parramatta Eels calendar. It recognises the efforts and major achievements of individuals from the NRL, NRLW, NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg seasons.
The early date of this year’s function made it impossible to present the NRLW awards, but the three male grades went ahead.
We have attended the awards every year except for the Covid impacted events. Unfortunately there were no tickets available to purchase this year as it was an invitation only event.
Though we couldn’t share the names of recipients live as they are announced, we will nonetheless give you the opportunity to comment on the award recipients via this post.
Our thanks to the Eels for the photo gallery used below.
Ken Thornett Medal (NRL Player of the Year): Clint Gutherson
It’s hard to argue with the selection of the King. The captain leads by example and his effort on effort plays don’t go unnoticed by supporters.
In a season where the Eels only secured 12 wins, Gutho scored 19 tries. He also posted 14 try assists and made 15 line breaks.
A shout out to J’Maine Hopgood who was just edged out by Gutho.
Nathan Hindmarsh Players’ Player: Clint Gutherson
It’s a measure of the value of a player when they are selected by their peers as being the best player in a season.
You’d have to think that winning this award would mean plenty to any recipient.
Blue and Gold Army NRL Award
Supporters recognise passion, commitment and performance. They value players that take pride in wearing the jersey every week. Clint Gutherson ticks those boxes.
Jack Gibson Coaches’ Award: Will Penisini
This season was another big step in the career of Will Penisini. The young centre was the mainstay in a backline that had some challenging moments during the year.
Will’s capacity to beat his opposite was a highlight of many games. According to Bryce Cartwright, Penisini is a leader out on the field and is incredibly mature for a player of such a young age.
Eric Grothe Rookie of the Year: Wiremu Greig
Wiremu “Woody” Greig finally established himself as an NRL player this year. After playing limited minutes, he caught the attention of supporters when longer stints resulted in greater impact.
Woody then surprised pundits with an early return from a lisfranc injury. A strong preseason going into 2024 should lead to further development in the big prop’s game.
Ray Price Community Award: Junior Paulo
The Parramatta Eels have a proud tradition of giving back to the community. To receive this award ahead of others means that a player has been outstanding in their contributions.
Junior is an ambassador for PCYC, works with the Anti-Violence programs in schools, and is a leader in the Pasifika community.
Bob O’Reilly NSW Cup Player of the Year: Luca Moretti
What a breakthrough year for Luca Moretti! After consistent form in NSW Cup, the young prop became a regular interchange forward selection for the NRL team. Before that he was setting the standard in NSW Cup.
The Italian international impresses with his energy in both attack and defence. Now establishing himself as a genuine option for the top 17, Luca will be a player to watch in 2024.
Geoff Gerard NSW Cup Coaches’ Award: Ky Rodwell
In a constantly changing line up, Ky Rodwell was one of coach Nathan Cayless’ rocks.
Ky was the leading Eel for run metres with 2809 metres, He also led the tackles made with 641 which placed him at 9th overall for the NSW Cup competition.
Steve Ella Jersey Flegg Player of the Year: Nic Lenaz
It was no surprise that Nic Lenaz received this award. Whether he plays at lock or fills in at dummy half, the team is guaranteed to get 100% from Lenaz.
The utility forward is renowned for effort on effort plays and is a respected leader in a talented Flegg team. Opponents know when they’re hit by one of his bell-ringers.
Brett Kenny Jersey Flegg Coaches’ Award: Brock Parker
With only the smallest difference between his best performances and his worst, Brock Parker could easily be called Mr Consistency.
Early in the season, coach Brennan was resigned to losing his prop to a NSW Cup call-up. Instead he lost him to injury, but when he returned to the action, Brock took up where he left off. A terrific acknowledgement of a fine season.
Michael Cronin Club Person of the Year: Steve Murphy & Monique Austin
Everyone connected with the club works above and beyond, no matter their role.
In receiving this award, Steve “Murf” Murphy (assistant NRL coach) and Monique Austin (Game Day and Events Manager) have been recognised for making outstanding contributions in an environment where total dedication is the norm.
We extend our congratulations to all of the award winners. Thank you for your efforts in 2923 and best wishes for success moving forward.