2018 Rabbitohs recruit, Dane Gagai, made history last night (Wednesday) becoming the first winger to be awarded the Wally Lewis Medal upon the completion of the 2017 State of Origin Series.
The Wally Lewis Medal is awarded to the Player of the Series across the three games of State of Origin football played each year, with Gagai’s 2018 team mate and Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis also a previous winner of the award in the 2009 series.
Throughout the Origin series, Gagai turned in three impressive performances on the wing, scoring two tries in Game II and running a total of 576 metres over 68 runs across the three matches, playing a huge roll in Queensland’s successful retention of the State of Origin trophy.
With players such as Aaron Gray and Bryson Goodwin moving on at the end of the year, a position in the Rabbitohs’ backline is there for Gagai, who can play centre, wing or fullback.
Gagai will have the opportunity at the Rabbitohs in 2018 to line up alongside seasoned players such as Inglis, Alex Johnston, Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker and Hymel Hunt, as well as burgeoning talents Robert Jennings, Braidon Burns, Siosifa Talakai, Connor Tracey, Campbell Graham, Adam Doueihi, Tyrone Taukamo, Mawene Hiroti and Jesse Arthurs.
Speaking to Channel 9 following Game III, Gagai, who made his Queensland Maroons debut in 2015, was humble about receiving the award and gave credit to his team mates, explaining that he couldn’t have won it without them.
“It was obviously a tough fought battle throughout the whole series,” said Gagai.
“Game I, NSW turned up and put in a great performance and Game II the boys fought hard to keep the series alive so without them I wouldn’t be in this position to receive this award.”
The Rabbitohs signed Gagai in June on a four-year contract beginning next season, with Gagai set to finish of this season with the Newcastle Knights.