Stawell Warriors and Greater Western Victoria Rebels footballer Jackson Taurau has had his year of development recognised, winning the Rebels’ personal growth award.
Taurau will travel to the Port Phillip Bay for a swim with the sharks as part of his award.
Rebels talent manager Phil Partington said Taurau improved significantly throughout 2017.
“The award recognises a boy that has developed personally over the Rebels program which Jacko definitely has done,” he said.
“He had a tough season last year and was probably a little bit lazy.
“To his credit he knuckled down and worked really hard to become a pivotal part in our team this year.”
Partington said the award was a “life experience” rather than a physical trophy.
“The award ties in with the criteria of how we hand it out. We see that the player who grows most throughout the year should be rewarded with something tangible to experience,” he said.
Taurau played alongside Stawell Warriors teammate Naish McRoberts in the Tac Cup this year.
Both boys had solid seasons with the Rebels, finishing seventh (McRoberts) and 10th (Taurau) in the best and fairest count.
Taurau played as centre-half-back for most of the season, a tough role given his smaller stature as a key position player.
“I was probably the smallest key back-men in the league,” he said.
“It was always challenging to be up against some big boys, we always seemed to be under the pump.”
Taurau didn’t get many opportunities to play in 2016 as a 17-year-old was given much more responsibility this season.
Taurau said he worked a lot harder this year than he ever has before.
“I took it a step further. I worked to get better and I was rewarded and got to play more,” he said.
Both Taurau and McRoberts’ tenure at the Rebels ends in 2017 due to age restrictions.
Both boys dominated in the Wimmera Football League when they came back for the Warriors at points during the season.
Partington said it is great to see players return to their clubs having learnt from their experience in the TAC Cup.
“We understand as a program that not every player can be drafted,” he said.
“Even though this is the case we really hope the boys can learn from our program and take that back to their clubs. “It would be great to see them dominate as players but also become crucial individuals with the club whether that be through coaching or any other means.”