Wallabies backrower Rob Valetini claims first John Eales Medal

Wed, Feb 7, 2024, 10:16 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies number eight Rob Valetini has claimed his first John Eales Medal. Photo: Getty Images
Wallabies number eight Rob Valetini has claimed his first John Eales Medal. Photo: Getty Images

Wallabies number eight Rob Valetini has claimed his first John Eales Medal on Wednesday.

Voted by the players after each game, Valetini was one of the most consistent players in World Rugby in 2023.

Don't miss Super Round 2024 in Melbourne from March 1-3. Get your tickets now! 

The Brumbies backrower polled 141 votes to finish ahead of Angus Bell (132) and Marika Koroibete (116).

"It means a lot," Valetini said to reporters.

"It was disappointing results last year but winning this award means a lot, even if it was a little bittersweet."

Bell finished in spectacular form after missing the opening game against South Africa whilst Koroibete was at his consistent best.

However, Valetini was influential across the year, playing nearly every minute for the Wallabies and starting at number eight in all nine games. This included a debut World Cup appearance in France against Georgia, leading the team for carries (41) and third for tackles (36) in their four games at the tournament.

The 25-year-old joins a legendary list of backrowers to win the award, including four-time winner Michael Hooper, David Pocock, George Smith and David Lyons.

"It's crazy because I used to watch all those players when I was growing up," he reflects.

"To play alongside the likes of 'Poey' and 'Hoops', it's surreal. Truly honoured to join them."

Valetini was a narrow runner-up to Koroibete in 2022,  finishing 32 votes behind the winger.

It continues Valetini’s remarkable rise, having made his debut just before the 2019 World Cup against Samoa.

Since then, the Melbourne-born Valetini has been one of Australia’s best, featuring in 39 Tests for the Wallabies.

He also helped the Brumbies to the 2020 Super Rugby AU title, coming off the bench to secure the 28-23 win over the Queensland Reds.

John Eales Medal – Final Points:

1. Rob Valetini – 141 pts

2. Angus Bell – 132

3. Marika Koroibete - 116

The Wallaroos and Wallabies will play a total of 10 Tests on home soil in 2024. Photo: Getty Images
Wallaroos and Wallabies 2024 Home Test schedule confirmed
Australian Rugby’s finest performers from the 2023 season have been celebrated at the Rugby Australia Awards in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images
The best of Australian Rugby crowned at Rugby Australia Awards
David Porecki will remain with Australian Rugby until at least the end of 2026. Photo: Getty Images
David Porecki extends contract with Australian Rugby
Joe Schmidt is eager to revitalise Australian Rugby. Photo: Getty Images
Joe 'Schmidt'n by chance to set up Wallabies for future