THE best player in the Group Nine premiership will not be lost to the Riverina next year.
Gundagai hooker James Luff has revealed he will not be chasing more rugby league glory in Sydney or overseas in 2016.
Speaking after collecting the Weissel Medal at a function at the Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Saturday, Luff declared he had no intention of deserting Gundagai’s quest for a second straight Group Nine title.
“I will be going on a holiday overseas, but I’ve changed my mind about playing over there” Luff said on Saturday.
“I’ve enjoyed the last month or so too much for that.
I will be going on a holiday overseas, but I’ve changed my mind about playing over there- James Luff
“As far as Sydney goes, I don’t want to go back there.
“I went down before and didn’t like it a bit.”
Luff’s firm commitment to Gundagai’s bid for a premiership double followed his runaway victory in the Weissel Medal, the historic best and fairest award in the Group Nine competition.
Leading from start to finish, the 21-year-old star romped to a commanding 13-vote success over Southcity captain-coach Nick Skinner in the medal count.
Setting a modern-day record, Luff polled 31 votes to beat Skinner (18 votes), Junee winger Tristan Dickson (16) and outgoing Temora coach Michael Henderson (16), while Matt Hands (15), Dave Cowan (14),Tui Samoa (13), Vince Brown (12) and Warren Lloyd (12) were next.
Luff, who had been linked to English club Ulverston for 2016 before his change of heart, is the sixth Gundagai player to earn the Weissel Medal, joining Peter Kennedy (1974), Pat Smith (1978), George Ashby (1986), Peter McDonald (2003), Patrick Clark (2006) and James Smart (2013) on the honour board.
Significantly, Luff will play alongside Smart at Gundagai next season as Smart returns as captain-coach to replace Cameron Woo.
For Luff, the premiership-Weissel Medal double puts him in esteemed company, including last year’s Albury captain-coach Lou Goodwin.
In accepting the honour, Luff paid homage to his team-mates.
“Gundagai made it easy,” he said.
“Every week we were going well.
“It’s much appreciated.”
Completing a triple success, Luff was also named in the Group Nine Team of the Year alongside Tui Samoa, Maika Sivo, Nathan Rose, Jack Lyons, Tristan Dickson, Luke Branighan, Kyle McCarthy, Michael Henderson, Dave Cowhan, Nick Skinner, Blake Dunn, Matt Wakefield, Matt Hands, Peter Little. Coach: Adam Hall.
The minor grade medal winners were: Luke McBeath (Sullivan Cup), Liam Martin (Weissel Cup), Bridget Horsley (Leaguetag), Nick English (Reserve grade).
Meanwhile the decision to move the Weissel Medal presentation from its usual late-season date was generally well received.
Wagga rugby league legend Steve Mortimer was the special guest at the Men of League race day.
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