FOR the past three years Douglas Grey-Hull has been recognised as the best player in Ballarat Rugby.
Now the St Patrick's Old Collegians-UB number 8 has been named the best and fairest player in Victorian Rugby Union's second division.
Grey-Hull, who only started playing the sport six years ago, polled 25 votes from the 13 games he played this season, to become the first Ballarat player to be honoured with the award.
So surprised was he to receive the award, Grey-Hull wasn't even able to attend Victorian Rugby's presentation night. The trophy was received by Ballarat Rugby president Geoffrey Dewer.
"I'd have to say this is the highest award in rugby I have received," Grey-Hull admits. "It is awarded by the opposition coaches, so that makes it a real honour."
The 21-year-old, who went to Ballarat High School as a teenager not St Patrick's College chose rugby because he wanted to play a sport that was tougher than footy or soccer.
"When I was 16 I wanted to give it a go. I wanted to run into blokes and other football codes weren't physical enough," he says. "Training against bigger blokes who were twice my size, a lot of New Zealand fellows, I learned the hard way. To be honest at one point I even thought about giving it up.
"My first game was in country league seniors, and it was a case of 'go hard or go home'."
At 187cm and 102kg, the Ballarat native is now a good size to play the sport although he would like to be a bit heavier.
In addition to the league award, Grey-Hull also received his third club best and fairest award, where he polled 14 votes, ahead of Steven Purtell on 10 votes.
He says Ballarat Rugby has a mixture of players who have come from rugby backgrounds as well as locals who have taken up the sport.
"There are a lot of New Zealand fellows who now farm out at Clunes, Creswick and Daylesford," Grey-Hull explains. "There are Fijians, English, and Samoans in addition to perhaps 11 who are from Ballarat.
"Through the years there would be a fair few Ballarat people who learned the sport through the club and have gone on to play in Queensland and other places.
"I'd love to move onto bigger and better things. I was part of the Victorian state squad in 2010 and 2011 under-20s.
"It's hard though with the domination of Australian rules football. I suppose I have to find the right people to talk to."