Gundagai stalwart James Luff has been recognised for his individual efforts in one of the most thrilling Group Nine deciders in recent memory.
Luff was named this year’s John Hill medallist for best on ground in the Tigers’ 13-6 grand final victory over Southcity and received a rousing cheer from the black and gold faithful upon taking the award.
The burly hooker admitted he was ‘humbled’ by the decision and deflected praise towards retiring stars James Smart and David Willis.
“It’s a great way for PJ and Willo to go out, like a fairytale ending for them. We’ve overcome so much adversity and lots of injuries and it’s a credit to the boys for digging in,” Luff said.
“Just looking either side of me during the game, I saw the blokes were buggered but they kept getting up and having a go.”
A Weissel medallist in 2015 and arguably one of Gundagai’s best in their premiership win, Luff played ill in 2016 and missed last year’s decider with a knee injury.
“Having missed last year and coming back through a knee reconstruction, it’s been tough but getting best on ground is pretty humbling,” Luff said.
“Especially going up against a team like Southcity – they’ve been the best all year and we just played a really good game of footy out there.”
Luff scored the Tigers’ second try and kicked two goals to finish as Gundagai’s highest scorer in the decider.
The 25-year-old finished with 78 points for the season, the second-highest tally at the club behind James Curgenven.