Meninga Medal Presentation 2017 @ AIS Arena

11 September 2017

The Canberra Raiders night of celebration for the Meninga Medal presentation at the AIS Arena was tinged with a hint of sadness about not making it to the finals , but it focused on the promise of a bigger and better season next year. Optimism is their default position always.

Memorable moments of the 2017 season were played, award winners in the many and varied categories announced and a happy party atmosphere kept the players, supporters and sponsors in a good mood. But it was the announcement of the “wrecking ball”, Junior Paulo, as winner of the Meninga Medal that brought emotions to the surface and a reality check for all the players who put their all into a team that wears its heart on its sleeve on these occasions. Emotions are good and on this occasion very genuine from a 23 year old who is destined, according to all, his best is yet to come. The Rookie of the Year, Nick Cotric, was a close runner up to Paulo, and at just 18 years of age also destined to continue his formidable rise in the pack.

It’s a glamorous event for them all with the wives and girlfriends frocking up as the blokes slip into ill fitting suits – muscles making for uncomfortable looking attempts at ‘formal’ attire – and for Sia Soliola the famous green suit borrowed from Garry Sykes formerly of Canberra Milk with what would have needed to be a fair amount of re-tailoring to make it fit his formidable frame. Giving up on the hair taming to keep his magnificent locks in check late on the night, Sia is among my favourites from a team that would probably be happier with a ukulele band and a hangi feast to celebrate the occasion.

And another season drifts into the memory bank of all those who hope the best Raiders season is next year. Because there’s always next year.