2022 Giltinis Awards Winners Announced

4 months ago

A season of highs and lows, here are the people within the LA Giltinis who stood out from the pack.

Giltinis Spirit Award - Langilangi Haupeakui

Langilangi made his remarkable comeback from injury in Round 14 of the 2022 MLR Season, earning him the 2022 Giltinis Spirit Award for outstanding grit and tenacity.

A proud husband and father, Haupeakui was a standout role model for the players, and within the Rugby community, with countless visits to Clubs and schools in LA.

The former USA Eagle has worked hard to get himself back in a place to be considered for international selection, but it was his off field mentorship and leadership that won him the award.

"Resilience and respect are the words that come to mind when I see Langi playing, working out in the gym or out in the community," said Giltinis General Manager Adam Freier.

"He is an incredible role model for our younger players, and leads by example through his discipline and handwork, but also the way he finds balance to be a be an incredible father and husband - for which I am sure his entire family would be very proud of him for what he achieved this season."

Giltinis Rising Star - Tas Smith

The Giltinis had a horror with injuries in 2022, and with the Goddard to flyhalf experiment paying full dividends in the mid part of season, Tas Smith his chance and took it with both hands.

Smith has set himself a clear goal to improve his skills and game awareness in the strong learning environment at the Giltinis, being around former Wallabies legends, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and David Dennis.

"I definitely believe Smith's running game and physicality improved as the season went on, and took the most of every opportunity with the Giltinis,” Freier added.

"He is a player on the rise and now has a good opportunity to continue to grow, both physically and mentally in the next few seasons, and play higher honours and be a regular starter in this league.

Giltinis MVP - Harrison Goddard

Another breakout season for Harrison Goddard, which saw him dominate the MLR at both number 9 and 10, and making the All MLR 2nd Team.

His kicking game from the ruck base was spot on and his sure hands and pass enabled the Giltinis to ignite their high-tempo running game. When the season was on the line, Goddard cool head was major a factor in the Giltinis run to the finals.

A proud Indigenous Australian, Goddard continues to rise through the Rugby ranks, with higher honors on the horizon.

"There is no doubt Harrison is a special talent." Said Freier, his former teammate.

“Two of his greatest attributes are his astute tactical kicking and his incredible composure for a player who is still relatively young.

"His made All MLR teams in both years, and I feel there are big things in the wings for him, and when that day comes, there will be a lot of people here at the Giltins that will be incredibly proud they played a part in his journey.

"He is a very popular member of the squad, and I am sure his teammates would have been thrilled he got this recognition in 2022; he could have easily got the award in 2021."

MLR Best Back - Billy Meakes

After a fine 2021 campaign for the LA Giltinis, Meakes continued his form into the new year to be named the MLR's Back of the Year once more in 2022.

It was the first time in MLR’s five-year history, a player has won back-to-back end of season awards.

Starting all 15 of the games he played, the 31-year-old scored three tries in 2022 led the league in meters carried, beat 43 defenders and even won six turnovers on defense.

“I probably just found myself with a little bit more ball in hand, and off the back of last year, understanding the competition a little bit more, saw my strengths and the opportunities to impose myself." Said Meakes

“It is something that I have always enjoyed [different challenges] and I have found in my career, when I am out of my comfort zone with challenges put in front of me, that is where I grow the most.

“That is something we saw this year, and looking back at the start of the year, it is not something I expected. As things change, adapt and get thrown at you, it is really nice to look back and see how you reacted to it, and it did work out.”

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