Wests Tigers‘ rising star, Jahream Bula, has been awarded the prestigious Kelly-Barnes Medal as the club’s NRL Player of the Year for 2023. The talented fullback also received the Players’ Player and Rookie of the Year awards, highlighting his exceptional debut season. The Kelly-Barnes Medal race was closely contested, with Bula and Api Koroisau tied on 22 votes heading into the final game against the Manly Sea Eagles in Round 27. In the end, Bula secured three points and Koroisau earned two points in the voting, giving Bula a one-point advantage over his captain for the season.
Bula, at just 21 years old, showcased his skills throughout the season with five tries in 18 NRL appearances. Not only did he contribute to the team’s attack, but he also displayed incredible defensive prowess as the last line of defense. Bula made several crucial try-saving tackles, including standout performances against the Panthers in Bathurst and the Dragons in Magic Round. He never missed a minute of play, featuring in all 80 minutes of each NRL game, and carried the ball for an impressive average of 159.1 running meters per game. Bula’s best performance came in Round 14 against the Canberra Raiders, where he racked up an impressive 245 meters.
Triston Reilly, who had a remarkable season scoring 14 tries in 19 appearances for the Magpies, was named Player of the Year for Western Suburbs in the NSW Cup. The 24-year-old center was rewarded for his consistent performances with an NRL debut in Round 25 against the Dolphins. Jack Boyling, a second-row player, was recognised as the NSW Cup team’s Players’ Player for his excellent display in 22 games for the Magpies.
In the Jersey Flegg Cup, Sione Vaihu stood out and was named the Player of the Year. His center partner, Josh Feledy, received the Players’ Player Award in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the team. Wests Tigers‘ Senior Partnerships Executive, John Skandalis, was named Club Person of the Year for his unwavering commitment and significant contributions to the club.
Additionally, former English import Gareth Ellis was honored with induction as a Wests Tigers Life Member. Ellis, who played 75 games across four seasons for Wests Tigers, had an outstanding career and was named Player of the Year three seasons in a row.
Wests Tigers CEO, Justin Pascoe, expressed his congratulations to all the award winners and extended his gratitude to everyone who contributed to the club throughout the season. Pascoe commended Jahream Bula for his exceptional achievements in his first NRL season, highlighting his strong values and dedication. Pascoe also acknowledged the seven debutants who played for Wests Tigers in 2023 and emphasised the club’s commitment to pathway development.
Pascoe praised the success of the club’s NRLW team, expressing pride in their accomplishments within a short period of time. He acknowledged the inevitability of player movements within professional sport but thanked all the departing players for their contributions and wished them success in their future endeavors.
Luke Brooks, who dedicated 11 seasons to the club, received a special mention from Pascoe. Pascoe expressed his gratitude to Brooks and his family for their significant impact on the club and wished them success in the future. Pascoe also acknowledged the hard work of the staff, volunteers, and interns who contribute to the club’s day-to-day operations.