Gull flies off with double
By BOB ANTHONY
THE Tweed Heads Seagulls have received a major boost in the lead-up to their first Queensland Cup grand final appearance on Saturday, with try-scoring speed machine Shannon Walker winning the competition's Best and Fairest Award in Brisbane last night. In a scenario reminiscent of Johnathan Thurston's recent Dally M victory, Walker gained the maximum votes in his last three games to finish on 19 points to edge out Wynnum Manly's Denny Lambert and claim the title by a single vote. Walker had been sitting on just eight points in Round 18.
Voted on by referees, the Best and Fairest Medal has existed for over 60 years and includes a winner's cheque of $7000.
In what was a stellar night, the youngster who has just turned 18, and has set the Queensland Cup alight with his dazzling displays of speed and elusive running, also picked up the Rookie of the Year award. Walker's victory follows in the footsteps of another indigenous try-scoring phenomenon, the Storm's Greg Inglis, who won the Cup's Best and Fairest with Norths Devils in 2005. And you have to think Walker's future is looking every bit as strong.
Walker has enjoyed a roving commission as part of the Tweed Seagulls' potent back line. Together with winger Nathanael Barnes and centre James Wood, the trio have scored more than 45 tries this season. Walker's honours continue a proud tradition for Seagulls in the QRL, with Barnes having claimed leading try-scorer last season. Walker was presented with his awards at a black tie affair at Suncorp Stadium.
Other big winners on the night included Easts Tigers hooker Trent Young, who took out the Player of the Year. He finished on 35 points, five clear of Central Comets playmaker Nat Bowman, followed by Souths Logan hooker Cameron Joyce (29pts) and Tweed Heads prop Chris Enahoro (29pts). The Representative Player of the Year was Shane Muspratt from North Queensland, the Coach of the Year went to Redcliffe's Anthony Griffin, Burleigh's Nick Parfitt was recognised as the Wizard Cup's leading points-scorer with 202 points, while Rory Bromley of Redcliffe and John Tamanika of Easts tied on 17 tries apiece as the leading try-scorers. Ipswich took home its first Club Championship, edging out Tweed Heads which finished in second place.