By Blake Edwards
The 2016 Junior Representative season officially concluded for the St George Dragons with the successful staging of their annual presentation evening at UOW Jubilee Oval, Jubilee on Wednesday.
In an event that celebrated the efforts of all players and staff from the 2016 Junior Dragons Harold Matthews (U16) and SG Ball (U18) teams, it also recognised those who excelled with four major awards being presented on the night.
Harold Matthews Head Coach Graham Wynn announced the worthy recipient of his Coach’s Award to be Ethan Hicks, whilst Dragons NRL Football Manager Ben Haran had the honour of announcing the 2016 Harold Matthews Cup Player of the Year, which was awarded to Harris Georgopoulos.
Georgopoulos received his award from St George Illawarra Dragons prop Jacob Host, who only a few years ago was a St George Dragons Junior Rep player himself.
Brad Liggins presented the 2016 SG Ball Cup Coach’s Award to Joel Holdsworth, while Dragons CEO Peter Doust announced Israel Seufale as the 2016 St George Dragons SG Ball Cup Player of the Year.
Seufale received his award, the Bill Spaul Memorial Trophy, from former St George Illawarra Dragons centre Mark Gasnier on behalf of the Spaul family.
Gasnier touched on the importance of getting the balance of enjoyment and competitiveness in the sport correct.
"Never forget to enjoy the game," said Gasnier.
"It's really important to focus on the enjoyment of the game as well as being competitive.
"You need to establish a balance between the two.
"When I started out I put a lot of focus into the competitive side of rugby league, and I forgot to enjoy myself.
"When I started to re-evaluate why I played the game to start with, was when I became a better player.
" I remembered I was playing because I enjoyed it. Don't ever forget to enjoy the game."
Other special presenters on the night included Yvette Downey (NSWRL Head of Competitions), Ian Millward (Dragons Pathways Director), Dave Warwick (Dragons Recruitment and Retention Manager).
A final surprise presentation of a signed dragons footy was made to long serving Junior Representative Manager Neil Lovett, who will retire at season's end.