Queensland Reds front-rower James Slipper has been rewarded for his work in the trenches during the Super Rugby season, being named the club's Stan Pilecki Medal winner after polling a record number of votes.
Slipper became just the second prop in the history of Queensland Rugby to win the award, which was handed out at the club's gala presentation ball last night.
The Wallaby forward polled 272 votes, calculated from a 3-2-1 system voted upon by the players following each game. He beat out Scott Higginbotham (226), Liam Gill (202) and Jake Schatz (168) as Reds forwards swept the voting.
The best back was Will Genia (153 votes in 2010), while Slipper joined Rodney Blake (2006) as the only bookend to take out the top gong.
Slipper, 23, polled in the top three for votes in eight matches throughout the season, including four of their final five regular season games.
The highest individual round scores in Pilecki Medal voting went to fullback Luke Morahan (52 votes against the Brumbies in round 14), while Gill recorded scores of 50 votes (Round 12 v Chiefs) and 49 votes (Round 11 v Crusaders in Christchurch).
Reds coaching director Ewen McKenzie said the toughness and quality of Slipper's campaign earned him deserved recognition from his peers.
“James was outstanding for the Reds in 2012 and this honour acknowledges the consistency and quality of his efforts throughout the entire season, where he polled votes in almost half of our games," McKenzie said.
“To win the award as a prop is a massive accomplishment as the nature of the position and the value of their contribution is sometimes underrated by the general public, who are naturally inclined to recognise the flashier involvements made by other players in games.
“It's also important to recognise that the top four vote-getters were all forwards. This is a rare feat but strong acknowledgement of the role the engine room is playing in the team's success.
"We are generating young leaders within our forwards and the experiences of the past 12 months will pay dividends during what will be an exciting 2013 campaign.”
Genia was voted by Reds fans as the People's Choice winner, Nick Frisby was named Rookie of the Year, Anthony Faingaa collected the Spirit of the Reds award; Dom Shipperley won Most Improved Player of the Year and Damien Barker was announced as Volunteer of the Year.