It will do little to ease the pain of grand final defeat, but Collegians livewire Callum Gromek can take home the competition's top individual honour after claiming the Paul McGregor Medal on Friday night,
The Dogs spark plug did justice to his 'Winx' moniker, romping home to claim the top gong from George Grofus Best Foward winner Levi Pascoe, Wests flyer Lachlan Hurst, Jack Royal Trophy (top try-scorer) Sam McCann and De La Salle lock Jacko Stewart.
Gromek, whose honour came with the Frank Smith Best Back trophy, was the clubhouse leader for the top award from the jump this season, finishing it with 18 tries, including a grand final double in last weekend's 24-18 loss to Thirroul.
"I'd watched a heap of him so I knew we had a special footballer, just seeing some of the stuff he did in Flegg," Hooper said.
"It wasn't just at our club. When he knew we got him, (Thirroul assistant coach) Benny Couchman came up to me and said 'you've got Dylan Edwards 2.0 mate'.
"You never really know until you see it up close, he was playing against 21-year-olds, but then he stepped it up to play against men, serious campaigners, and [proved] that's the footy player he is."
In a side stacked with familiar faces, the 22-year-old proved the much-needed fresh ingredient for the club to reach a third straight grand final.
"We had to evolve as a team and he certainly delivered that for us," Hooper said.
"He fitted straight in, personally, with our footy side and there's a few experienced heads there that don't take any rubbish. He had to get his respect from the halves and Zeik Foster probably complemented him a lot.
"From round one we knew the footballer we had. He could ball-play, run, skip across the line, broken field stuff. It was all part of his armoury. If he wasn't scoring the tries, he was setting them up.
"The turn of speed he's got is unassuming, but it was probably the tries he stopped that was his key contribution. He stopped plenty. He's just the whole package as far as I'm concerned."
"I'm not going to bag people who don't sign players but, far out, he's a fair footballer," Hooper said.
"He's a true professional. That was the first thing that I found about him. He's probably the fittest kid I've seen, all through work ethic.
"The ultimate compliment was walking out of WIN Stadium after the grand final and Brem (Thirroul fullback Wayne Bremner) came up and said 'you're the most talented footy player I've come up against in this competition for a long time'.
"It was classy stuff from Brem and that's a fair compliment from someone like him because we all know the footballer he is."
Club Championship - Western Suburbs RLFC
Bob Brown Memorial Trophy (Minor Premiership) - De La Salle RLFC
Bob Lowrie Trophy - First Grade club scoring most tries - De La Salle RLFC
Jack Royal Trophy - Mojo Homes Illawarra Cup Highest Try Scorer - Sam McCann (Collegians RLFC)
Mojo Cup Highest Point Scorer - Eli Levido De La Salle RLFC
1st Division Highest Point Scorer - Matt Anger (Helensburgh)/Hamish McLaurin (Wests)
Harrigan Shield Highest Point Scorer - Ben De La Fosse (Berkeley)
Mojo Cup 18's Highest Point Scorer - Eden Hodges (Collies)
Open Ladies League Tag Player of the Year - Brianna Davis (Figtree)
Harrigan Shield Player of the Year - Ben De La Fosse (Berkeley)
Mojo Homes 1st Division Player of the Year - Josh McConell (Corrimal)
Alex Jack Memorial Trophy 18's Player of the Year - Eden Hodges (Collies)
George Grofus Trophy Best Forward - Levi Pascoe (Wests)
Frank Smith Tropy - Best Back - Callum Gromek (Collies)
Paul McGregor Medal - Callum Gromek (Collies)
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