Genia is top player
QUEENSLAND Reds scrumhalf Will Genia has been voted the leading Australian player in the 2012 Super Rugby competition for the second year in succession.
Genia edged out Rebels-bound teammate Scott Higginbotham by one vote, polling the maximum three votes in the final home and away match against the Waratahs.
Prior to the last round, Brumbies fly-half Christian Lealiifano and Western Force captain David Pocock were joint leaders, two votes ahead of the Reds pair.
With Lealiifano and Pocock out injured, it left the door open for the Queenslanders.
And as he did the previous year when he polled three votes in the last round to claim the award, Genia produced another man-of-the-match display to beat Higginbotham who picked up two votes to join Lealiifano and Pocock in second place.
Labelled the best scrumhalf in the world this year, Genia polled votes in seven matches compared to nine last year, including four man-of-the-match performances. They came against the Sharks in Durban in round four, the Blues in Auckland in round 10, the Lions at Suncorp in round 13 and the Waratahs at Suncorp in round 18.
Votes were awarded by television, radio and print journalists and commentators in each of the games involving at least one Australian team.
Genia became just the third player to win back-to-back awards, joining former Brumbies and Wallabies flanker George Smith and former Waratahs and Reds fullback Chris Latham.
The Reds also secured the Australian Team of the Year award for topping the Australian Conference table, while former World Cup winning Wallaby and Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie was named Australian Coach of the Year for a record fifth time in his career.
Other award winners were Brumbies flyer Jospeh Tomane who won the Rookie of the Year award, and Steve Walsh who was named the top Australian referee.
Walsh will referee the semi-final on Saturday night in Cape Town between the Stormers and Sharks.