Brian To’o has been awarded the prestigious Brad Fittler Medal following an outstanding State of Origin series performance for the Westpac NSW Blues. To’o, who played as a winger for the team, demonstrated exceptional skills throughout the series, averaging over 200 running meters per match. The medal was presented by the Blues coach, Brad Fittler, during a ceremony at The Star Event Centre, where more than 500 guests gathered to celebrate the achievements of players from various representative competitions, including major competitions, junior representative competitions, and the community.
In addition to To’o, several other players were recognised for their exceptional performances. Emma Tonegato was named the NSW Women’s Origin Player of the Year, Liam Martin received the True Blues Award, Kezie Apps won the Sky Blues Award, and Cody Walker secured The Daily Telegraph People’s Choice Award. These players all made significant contributions to their respective teams during the series.
To’o’s impact on the NSW Blues cannot be understated. Since making his debut in 2021, he has represented the state nine times and played a crucial role in their Game Three victory in Sydney this year. In that game, To’o recorded an impressive 258 running meters, including 102 post-contact meters. He also had a line break, an offload, two tackle busts, and scored the opening try of the match.
Liam Martin‘s performance is also worth highlighting. Despite facing injury challenges, he showcased tremendous resilience by playing in all three games of the series. In Game One in Adelaide, he even scored a well-worked try, displaying his versatility and skillset. Cody Walker‘s contribution to the Blues’ success should not be overlooked either. After being recalled for Game Three, he delivered a stellar performance, showcasing his dangerous abilities on the field.
Coach Brad Fittler commended Brian To’o for embodying the qualities expected of a NSW Blues player. Fittler highlighted To’o’s dedication and hard work, both in training and during matches. To’o’s infectious energy and positive presence in the team camp also had a significant impact on his fellow players.
Head coach Kylie Hilder applauded Emma Tonegato for her consistency and threat on the field in both of the women’s Origin games. Tonegato’s professionalism and commitment, both on and off the field, make her a pleasure to coach. Kezie Apps, on the other hand, overcame her injury to lead the Sky Blues throughout the season. Despite her challenges, she showcased exceptional leadership qualities and made a significant impact in her record 11th appearance for the state.
Individual awards were also presented to players from various other competitions. Ethan Strange from the Canberra Raiders was named the NSW Under 19s Origin Player of the Year after scoring a hat-trick against Queensland. Chelsea Makira, a hooker from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, received the NSW Under 19s Women’s Origin Player of the Year award for her impressive performance, including scoring two tries. Dean Hawkins, the halfback for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, was named The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup Player of the Year for his role in guiding his club to a second-place finish.
Holli Wheeler, a forward from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, received the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership Player of the Year award after leading her club to the Grand Final. Unfortunately, she was unable to play in the historic 1-0 Grand Final loss to Mounties due to a knee injury suffered in the Semi-final.
Christopher Hollis, the president of the Taree Red Rovers Junior Rugby League Club, was honored with the Gordon Lowrie Memorial Community Volunteer of the Year Award. Hollis has dedicated the past 25 years to providing rugby league opportunities to Indigenous and socially disadvantaged children. His tireless efforts as a referee, ground manager, and coach have had a profound impact on the community.
The Brad Fittler Medal night serves as a platform to recognize and celebrate the achievements of players across all NSWRL teams and competitions. This includes not only Origin, seniors, juniors, and women, but also referees, club officials, and volunteers who have made significant contributions to the sport. Previous recipients of the Brad Fittler Medal include renowned players such as Steve Menzies, Danny Buderus, Paul Gallen, and James Tedesco.