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Winger Koroibete named Australia's best player

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By Reuters
Winger Koroibete named Australia's best player
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - England v Australia - Oita Stadium, Oita, Japan - October 19, 2019 Australia's Marika Koroibete scores their first try REUTERS/Peter Cziborra   -   Copyright  PETER CZIBORRA(Reuters)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete capped his highly successful transition to rugby union when he was awarded the John Eales Medal as Australia’s best player of 2019 late on Thursday.

The former rugby league international, who moved to the 15-man game in 2017, was Australia’s best player in a Rugby World Cup campaign that ended in a quarter-final defeat to England last month.

The Fiji-born back’s oustanding individual try in that loss was his fourth of the tournament and took his tally to 12 in 28 tests for Australia over the last two seasons.

George Smith, David Pocock and Israel Folau are among the previous winners of the award, which was established in 2002 and is the result of a ballot of the players.

“A lot of great players have won this award so it’s a great honour and privilege,” the hard-running 27-year-old said.

“It was always my dream growing up to play rugby (union) at the highest level. I don’t know why they voted for me, I just go out there and play for the love of the game.”

Women’s captain Grace Hamilton was named Wallaroo of the Year, while Olympic champion Charlotte Caslick won the women’s Sevens Players of the Year award.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)