Pat McCabe July 27, 2012
Brumbies season 'awards'. Photo: Marco Manna
The season is over, so it's time to celebrate some of the most memorable - and forgettable - efforts by the players this season. Many of the categories were hotly contested, but my decision is final.
Most enjoyable win
The Highlanders came to Canberra undefeated having put the Chiefs, Waratahs and Crusaders away in the three weeks prior. Both collectively and individually that win gave us confidence. Joe Tomane's two tries are still being replayed while guys like Christian Lealiifano and Michael Hooper set high standards they kept to for the rest of our season. It was a reflection of where we knew we could be as a team.
Including the trial match in Cairns, we lost to the Reds three times this year which really hurts. So to fall at the final hurdle against the Blues and give the Reds a leg-up to the finals made a disappointing loss even worse. Not knowing for certain that we'd been knocked out of the finals presented a strange feeling in the sheds after the game. For the first time our destiny was taken out of our hands and it was time to start relying on other results to go our way. It was a very disappointing way to finish the year.
Individually it's pretty hard to go past Jesse Mogg's solo effort against the Sharks at Canberra Stadium. Jesse was on the end of our best team effort too, against the Bulls in Pretoria. Christian wrapped around me, with Andrew Smith and Joe running beautiful decoy lines space opened up down the right and Jesse stormed down the sideline to score.
There were a few big players on the beard scene this year, with Nic White, Scott Fardy and Kimami Sitauti all shelving their Mac 3's for the best part of six months. As much as it pains me to give him credit for looking terrible, Fardy probably just got the chocolates based on length and weight. But with great facial growth comes the burden of being hideously ugly and Scott is proud to report he hasn't made one small child cry since having a shave. Honourable mentions go to Robbie Coleman for his 'no-mo', Abraham Lincoln effort, and Christian and Tevita Kuridrani for their eternal 5o'clock shadows.
Best brown nose
We knew there was a problem the moment Nic White called Jake dad in a pre-season team meeting. From there it was a running battle to stop him moving his locker into Jake's office, brewing him an early morning coffee or even waxing the coach's Audi on his day off. Out of 14 plane trips the Brumbies took this year, Nic managed to wiggle his way next to Jake on 13 occasions, eventually getting pipped on the return flight from Melbourne for the coach's wife, Lindy.
The coaches organised some of the club's greats to present our jerseys and part a few words of wisdom before captain's runs. They were all different, personalised to whoever had been given the honour. While guys like Joe Roff, Rod Kafer and Patricio Noriega can inspire players with just a few words of emotive wisdom, having someone like author Bryce Courtenay speak to us was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He is an amazing man with plenty of stories to tell and it was a memorable way for us to prepare for the Waratahs.
I'm not sure if it's his country swagger or if he just doesn't care, but Sam Carter can only be described as a dag. He continues to baffle even the dorkiest dressers with leather shoes and track pants, or embroidered jeans with runners. The worst bit is he's not a bad looking fella.
Best media effort
The first thing we are told about media is not to say anything we wouldn't want our mums to hear.
Unfortunately our Kiwi import Leon Power must have been in the toilets for that lesson. His first Brumbies media opportunity sounded more like a Rodney Rude concert than game-day preview. The big country boy must have been nervous, because by the end of the session he'd let three swear words out, including the magic f-bomb. Leon has asked me to send a cheerio and chocolates to The Canberra Times' editing department for helping him out on that occasion.
Most in denial
Someone needs to buy Moggy a mirror. His hair has receded to the back of his neck and doesn't look like slowing. Time for a No.1 I think Greyhound.
All year Brumbies fans have enjoyed Scott Sio's 'Dougie' antics played on the big screen after every try at Canberra Stadium. Upset with all the fanfare his teammate was receiving, Ita Vaea has put in a special request to be the team's official 'Dougie' representative for the coming year. Word is he's enlisted the help of 'Dougie' legend Danny Cipriani for some extra lessons.
Sam Carter put himself out of pre-season training for three days after running to a standstill during Tuesday afternoon conditioning. Canberra Times snapper Stuart Walmsley caught Colby Faingaa at the same session in a terrific shot that really summed up how all the boys were feeling at that stage of the session - stuffed.
He may not be sort of bloke fathers would want their daughters bringing home, but Scott Fardy must be congratulated on his professionalism and work ethic in his first year of Super Rugby. I played with Scott at Warringah and we go a long way back, so it's been exciting for me to see him fulfil his massive potential. Regardless of his hygiene, I'm looking forward to playing plenty more games in the Brumbies jersey with Scott over the next few years.
Dan Palmer has spent the past year trying everything to get his foot right. It would be fine for a few weeks, but essentially it made it hard for him to run around, much less push against 120kg of South African muscle. Palms isn't the sort of bloke to whinge or complain, he just gets on with it. I was pleased to see him earn a Wallaby cap this year against Scotland, but I'll be even happier for him once his foot is right and he's fully fit.
Pat McCabe is an ACT Brumbies and Wallabies centre