The Cumberland Throw

The 2023 Ken Thornett Medal

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.

Eels forever!




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27 thoughts on “The 2023 Ken Thornett Medal

  1. Parra Pete

    I had the privlege of seeing Ken Thornett play his first game for Parra at Leichhardt Oval in 1962.
    It was fantastic to be there to witness my favourite Eels player give the Parramatta Club fans a reason to be excited for its future. It was a memorable moment – and Clint Gutherson is a worthy winner of the KTM—and Ken would be proud of Gutho’s talent and his ability to always try his best. Gutho truly is the KING.
    Congratulations SIXTIES and your teAm on another wonderful coverage of all things Parramatta. Love your passion..

    1. sixties Post author

      Parra Pete, it’s our privilege to have a supporter of your pedigree read and contribute to TCT. Thanks for sharing this.

    2. Tanky

      Agree mate Ken thornett would be proud of the way gutho plays. One of the things that i remember as a kid in the 60s was the kicking duals especially with LES johns and I think it was ken ford from wests who had a huge boot

      1. Parra Pete

        It was Tony Ford Tanky…Ken NEVER dropped a bomb..and he was the first to stand outside the field and bat the ball back into play. (Kenny Foord was a Parramatta winger – the intercept king…passed away a couple of years ago. RIP Ken)

          1. Anonymous

            Your right ,he would leap from field of play and bat it back before hitting ground , les johns then copied him .

          2. Slugg

            He did leap from over the sideline so they changed the rule so that the player could leap from over the sideline but had to land inside the sideline. That’s how I remember it but I’m 77 so I’m lucky I can remember anything

        1. Anonymous

          Fordy and gil mcdougall the intercept kings , ken ford was actually a parramatta police detective from memory .

          1. Poppa

            His nickname was “Mary”, I won’t go into detail but he was marking Peter Diamond from Wests and as Diamond was lining him up he threw the best Hail Mary you will ever see! Lol

            PS Don’t be upset Diamond scared the shit out of a lot of players, especially the Pom’s

    3. Ted

      I was there to , it was ironic because there had been a dispute between tigers and parra over kens signature , tigers loss our gain , a great player and a true gentleman of the game , i actually went to coonabarrabran to watch his team win gf after he retired from arl .

      1. Parra Pete

        Actually, it was South Sydney that Parramatta got under their guard to sign Ken..

  2. Phil

    Ken Thornett was a true great. After six years of wooden spoons his arrival gave Parramatta respect and their first finals appearance. Clint Gutherson resembles the mayor in so many respects. Congrats Gutho.

    1. sixties Post author

      It’s a huge compliment if anyone who remembers watching the Mayor says that the King would make him proud.

      1. Parra Pete

        Ken Thornett – Captain/coach of Coonabarabran 1969. Back row, first right. Lost the only game of the year, the Group 14 Grand Final going down to Baradine 10/9…..

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