Grace Hamilton crowned Wallaroos player-of-the-year after toughest of weeks

THE TOP HONOUR: Panuara's Grace Hamilton was deservedly crowned Rugby AU's Wallaroo Of The Year, bravely accepting the award in the most emotional of weeks. Photo: RUGBY AU MEDIA/STU WALMSLEY
THE TOP HONOUR: Panuara's Grace Hamilton was deservedly crowned Rugby AU's Wallaroo Of The Year, bravely accepting the award in the most emotional of weeks. Photo: RUGBY AU MEDIA/STU WALMSLEY

Panuara's Grace Hamilton was deservedly crowned Wallaroo Of The Year on Thursday evening, the Australian skipper bravely fronting Rugby AU's night of nights to accept the award amid the most emotional of weeks.

Hamilton was on hand to after accept the award and flanked by her family, she made the trip to Sydney just three days after losing her father John, the NSW Country Rugby Union legend lost his battle with cancer in the early hours of Monday morning.

She was never going to miss the presentation though, and was incredibly composed when speaking to Rugby AU considering.

"My father wanted us to be here, that's why we're here but rugby is something that brings our family together, it's an exciting game and for us to have that spectacle and for me to be able to play in that spectacle, it's great," Hamilton said.

My father wanted us to be here, that's why we're here but rugby is something that brings our family together.

Wallaroo Of The Year Grace Hamilton

One can only assume that, like the rest of the country, John Hamilton could see his daughter was the only genuine candidate for the award and would be crowned, considering 2019 was her most sensational year in green and gold.

The 2019 Test season was the Wallaroos' busiest to date, outside a World Cup year, with an extended program against Japan and New Zealand that was also Hamilton's first as Australian skipper.

She made her captaincy debut in the first of two Tests against Japan in which she produced some of the most memorable performances from any Australian back-rower, winning back-to-back player-of-the-game awards in the Wallaroos' wins.

In her first Test as skipper ran for a ridiculous 171 metres before somehow eclipsing that in her next start, crashing through the 200-metre barrier in an astonishing, three-try performance. While her side was soundly beaten twice by New Zealand, she was still among the best on field.

While she had always dominated from the back-row the captaincy clearly brought out Hamilton's absolute best, and knowing her father was able to watch her lead her country is something she, prior to Thursday night, is something she'll always cherish.

HEROICS: Grace Hamilton celebrates her third try in a second straight player-of-the-game performance against Japan. Photo: RUGBY AU MEDIA/STU WALMSLEY

HEROICS: Grace Hamilton celebrates her third try in a second straight player-of-the-game performance against Japan. Photo: RUGBY AU MEDIA/STU WALMSLEY

Of course, he was the first person she called after being appointed to the role back in June too.

"[This award] means everything, but I'm a firm believer it's a team game - there's 15 of us on the field, 23 in the team on any given day and 30 of us in the squad generally so for me it's about putting my best foot forward and playing my role in that team," Hamilton said.

"I was nervous at the start (after being given the captaincy) but the support I was shown by the girls in the squad and the general community, I was so thankful for that and it really was one of the best years I've had in rugby."

Hamilton's focus, in rugby terms, will now shift to the NSW Waratahs' bid to win a third consecutive Buildcorp Super W title in the lead-up to the Wallaroos' 2020 Test program, which is being beefed up again.

Australia will play six Tests in 2020, all against higher-ranked opponents, with matches against the US and Canada to complement two more trans-Tasman showdowns with New Zealand.