Yeppoon player shocked by league's top honour
RUGBY LEAGUE: Yeppoon Seagulls' skipper Sam Holzheimer has won the coveted Ollie Howden Medal for 2018.
The talented lock said he was taken aback when announced as the recipient of Rockhampton Rugby League's highest honour on Friday.
Holzheimer knew he was in the running but said his money was on teammate Gavin Hiscox or Rockhampton Brothers' Mark Johnstone.
"It was very surprising and I was shocked on the night,” he said.
"It is pretty special to get my name on the trophy and be rewarded for my work through the year.
"I was runner-up last year to (Norths) Dean Allen, so to win it this year is amazing.
"This is definitely the highlight of my career.”
Holzheimer was one of Yeppoon's most consistent performers this year and instrumental in the team claiming the minor premiership.
They lost just one game in the regular season but were denied premiership glory, beaten 40-14 by Rockhampton Brothers in the grand final.
Holzheimer said it was a disappointing end to what had been a fantastic season.
"I haven't really experienced that before, it was not a good feeling,” he said.
"I was a bit down for a week or so but you move on.
”We've all regrouped and we're all back on board and it's made us hungrier for next year.”
Holzheimer believes his game has flourished this season under coaches Scott Minto and Shaun Goode and with mentoring from Hiscox, a former Capras stalwart and World Cup player.
The 22-year-old started playing league at six with Gladstone Brothers.
He later moved to Yeppoon, where he went to St Brendan's College and started playing for the Seagulls in 2008.
After playing in the halves or at hooker his whole career, Holzheimer said it was only by chance that he found his way into the lock position.
"Last year we had an injury to one of our players and I filled in and really enjoyed it,” he said.
"I played all last year there and I held the spot again this year and I'm hoping to stay there.
"I'm smaller than most locks. A lot of locks are used like another forward but I'm more of an old-school lock where I'm used as a playmaker.”
Minto said Holzheimer was a gifted player and an inspirational leader.
"He's every coach's dream. He does everything that's asked of him, his attitude is on point, he's a good person, he cares about the other players in the team and he always gives 110 per cent.
"He's taken his game to another level on the field and he's become a great leader within our group.
"It's been a pleasure watching him develop into the player he is today.”
Holzheimer thrives on the competitiveness and the camaraderie of rugby league.
"I just love the game and I'm really passionate about it.
"It's something I've grown up doing and it's a big part of my life.
"I can't imagine doing anything else and I want to keep playing for as long as I can.”
OLLIE HOWDEN MEDAL RUNDOWN
- Sam Holzheimer (Yeppoon) 18
- Gavin Hiscox (Yeppoon) 16
- Mark Johnstone (Brothers) 14
- George Grant (Yeppoon) 12
- Riley Reid (Brothers), Shaun Ezzy (Norths) 10
- Ollie Howden Medal: Sam Holzheimer (Yeppoon)
- Men's Rookie of the Year: Cameron Oakley (Emu Park)
- Women's Player of the Year: Tashina Ketchup (Emu Park)
- Women's Rookie of the Year: Rhiannon Revell-Blair (Emu Park)